On Colchester Road in Fairfax County, Virginia, USA, just outside the small town of Clifton, lies an unlikely tourist destination officially known as Colchester Overpass, unofficially known as Bunny Man Bridge. From appearances, there is nothing remarkable about the site, which consists of a concrete tunnel with a railway track. What attracts people, despite the fact that tourism is discouraged by local authorities, are the accounts of mutilations and murders told about the place.
The details vary from story to story, but there are two basic versions of the story. One began with the closure of a madhouse near the bridge, from which a shipment of detainees was transferred to another facility. However, two of the most dangerous criminals escaped and hid in the woods. Despite a manhunt, they escaped the authorities for weeks, leaving rabbit carcasses half eaten in their wake. Finally, one of them was found dead, hanged from the viaduct. The other escapee, now nicknamed “the rabbit man”, in English “Bunnyman”, was never found. Some say he was hit and killed by a passing train and that his ghost continues to haunt the overpass to this day, killing and maiming innocent bystanders.
The other version explains it is a disturbed teenager who, one day, put on a white rabbit costume, murdered his whole family, then hung himself on the Colchester Road bridge. From then on, his spirit haunted the bridge, chasing visitors with an axe to gut them. A total of 32 people reportedly died there.
Observations from Bunny Man have also been reported in other communities, not only in Fairfax County, but also in Maryland and Columbia neighbourhoods. And when he didn’t kill, he would chase children with his axe, attack adults in their cars where they vandalized property.
So, is the Bunny Man real? No: not the rabbit man of legend, anyway. No nuthouse ever existed in Clifton, Virginia. This is what archivist and historian Brian A. Conley, who researched Bunny Man’s stories extensively for the Fairfax County Public Library, says. There is also no record of a local teenager murdering his family and no one has ever hung himself on the Bunny Man Bridge.
However, real incidents could have inspired the urban legend. On October 22, 1970, a curious story appeared in the Washington Post under the title “Man in rabbit costume wanted in Fairfax”. According to the report, a young man and his fiancée were sitting in their car about 5 km east of the Colchester overpass. Then they were accosted by a man “dressed in a white suit with long rabbit ears”. After complaining that it was an intrusion, he threw a wooden hatchet through the right front window of the car and “fled into the night”, according to the article.
A little over a week later, the man with an axe and rabbit ears was spotted again one block from where the first observation had occurred. This time he stood on the porch of a newly built house, vandalizing a roof support: a post.
Here is how it was reported in the Washington Post:
Paul Phillips, a private security guard for a construction company, said he saw the “rabbit” standing on the porch of a new but unoccupied house.
“I started talking to him” explains Phillips, “and that’s when he started cutting (the pole)”, “You’re an intruder around here, Phillips screams”. The rabbit replied by hitting him eight times in the post “If you don’t get out of here, I’ll blow your head off”.
Phillips explains that he went back to his car to get his handgun, but the “rabbit”, carrying a long-handled axe, fled into the woods. **
The mysterious Bunny Man has never been identified, caught or questioned, as far as we know. But there are good reasons to assume that these verifiable observations formed the genesis of Bunny Man’s legend, which continues to shiver.
Crédit-Image à la une : Michael Hipple / Moment / Getty Images / ThoughtCo