Seemed like before the internet came along and demystified everything, every community had a story like this: Crazy guy with a knife/axe/gun terrorizes kids in town. There are a million varieties told around camp fires every year. Ever hear the one about the couple in the car who keep hearing the scratching while making out amidst reports of a killer on the loose only to find a hook dangling from the door handle after they finally beat it? What about the one where the male half of the horny duo gets out to check on the sound and the female half later finds that the scratching sound was the guy’s ring scraping the top of the car because he’d been killed and hung upside down from a tree above the car and the wind caused him to sway? Tonight’s may be the genesis of this local legend and it comes recommended from Cinema Suicide reader, Suzie Pillipot.
Fairfax County, Virginia has a nasty secret. Since 1904, reports have gone around that a man wearing a white bunny suit, wielding an axe has been spotted in the woods surrounding the area. Reports have circulated that people wandering in these areas often encounter the man, shouting gibberish and chasing people, threatening them and in a couple of instances, actually running them down, bashing their heads in and then hanging their skinned corpses from a railroad overpass that has come to be named Bunny Man Bridge. Neatly skinned animals in this part of the forest are often found as well, sometimes hanging in the same fashion in the same location. Local legends state that in 1904, while being transferred from a state mental institution to Lorton Prison, several patients managed to escape. Of these fugitives, Douglas J. Grifon murdered fellow inmate Marcus Wallster and then disappeared into the woods, reappearing occasionally to terrorize the locals, only his legacy has outlived actual human lifespan and Grifon, in bunny suit, continues to be spotted to this day, screaming unintelligibly, waving that god damn axe around.
Unfortunately there are a shitload of holes in this story and the casual observer would never know. The devil is in the details, you see. It’s easy to accept a story when it’s loaded with names, dates and locations but this one, full of factual sounding data, is actually full of shit. Lorton Prison wasn’t built until 191o, there has never been a mental institution in this particular area and there are no criminal records at all linked to the people named in this article. The story I have just told is a work of pure fiction.
This site, an exhaustive collection of data and research about this legend offers a couple of extremely interesting entries into the public record related to the Bunny Man legend.
From the Washington Post, October 22, 1970:
Man in Bunny Suit Sought in Fairfax
Fairfax County police said yesterday they are looking for a man who likes to wear “white bunny rabbit costume” and throw hatchets through car windows. Honest.
Air Force Academy Cadet Robert Bennett told police that shortly after midnight last Sunday he and his fiancee were sitting in a car in the 5400 block of Guinea Road when a man “dressed in a white suit with long bunny ears” ran from the nearby bushes and shouted: “You’re on private property and I have your tag number.”
The “Rabbit” threw a wooden-handled hatchet through the right front car window, the first-year cadet told police. As soon as he threw the hatchet, the “rabbit” skipped off into the night, police said. Bennett and his fiancee were not injured.
Police say they have the hatchet, but no other clues in the case. They say Bennett was visiting an uncle, who lives across the street from the spot where the car was parked. The cadet was in the area to attend last weekend’s Air Force-Navy football game.
Here’s another one.
From The Washington Post, October 31, 1970
The “Rabbit” Reappears
A man wearing a furry rabbit suit with two long ears appeared — again — on Guinea Road in Fairfax County Thursday night, police reported, this time wielding an ax and chopping away at a roof support on a new house.
Less than two weeks ago a man wearing what was described as a rabbit suit accused two persons in a parked car of trespassing and heaved a hatchet through a closed window of the car at 5400 Guinea Rd. They were not hurt.
Thursday night’s rabbit, wearing a suit described as gray, black and white, was spotted a block away at 5307 Guinea Rd.
Paul Phillips, a private security guard for a construction company, said he saw the “rabbit” standing on the front porch of a new, but unoccupied house.
“I started talking to him,” Phillips said, “and that’s when he started chopping.”
“All you people trespass around here,” Phillips said the “Rabbit” told him as he whacked eight gashes in the pole. “If you don’t get out of here, I’m going to bust you on the head.”
Phillips said he walked back to his car to get to get his handgun, but the “Rabbit”, carrying the long-handled ax, ran off into the woods.
The security guard said the man was about 5-feet-8, 160 pounds and appeared to be in his early 20s.
The Bunny Man legend begins to take on qualities of a diagram of an urban legend. These documented run-ins with The Bunny Man tie in to a litany of word of mouth stories from locals which almost always involved a hatchet being thrown, young people in cars and even a few of them involve encounters with a man in a bunny suit hacking at a column of some kind.
Tremendous amounts of research have been done on the topic of the Bunny Man of Fairfax County and so many of the stories since 1970 carry details consistent with documented encounters from the time. Eventually, encounters with The Bunny Man, stop being so consistent and go back to tall tale status but a period in the history of this legend, 1970, gets really specific in the details. Who the hell was this guy and why the bunny suit? More importantly, where did he go? Further reports in Fairfax Country talk of an ‘axe man’ with details that are consistent with the Bunny Man sightings but none involve a bunny suit.