Painful Truth

Painful Truth: Bizarre Bunny Man had real root

Most urban legends seem to spring from nothing, but some have bizarre origins.

Urban legends are fascinating critters, woven through our lives via chain emails, Facebook, and that thing that happened to a friend of a friend of mine, I swear he was there!

Some urban legends definitely have a basis in fact, even the strangest. The story about the escaped hook-handed killer, and the couple who find a hook on their car door handle may have been inspired by some unsolved attacks in Texarkana in the late 1940s.

But the last legend you’d expect to be rooted in the truth is the bizarre tale of the Fairfax County Bunny Man.

Teenagers from the suburbs in Virginia and Washington, D.C., have kept the legend alive for more than 40 years. The various versions often include details about an escaped mental patient, skinned rabbits (and humans) found in the woods.

Some versions of the story claim that the deranged killer was hit by a train on a rail overpass, which he now haunts. Other versions have him hanging his victims from the bridge.

About all the various versions have in common is the rabbit suit the killer allegedly wears at least part of the time.

The grisly story sounds like it was cobbled together from bits and pieces of horror movies. But it turns out the strangest part – the bunny suit – is actually true.

In October of 1970, police in Fairfax County, Virginia, had a couple of odd reports from frightened residents.

An Air Force Cadet named Robert Bennett was sitting in a car with his fiancée, across the street from his uncle’s home one night in mid-October.

A man ran up and yelled “You’re on private property and I have your tag number!” He then tossed a hatchet through the passenger side car window, fortunately not hitting either occupant. The bunny-suited man ran back into the bushes from whence he had appeared. Police began an investigation.

A few days later, a security guard at a new housing development reported a man dressed as a rabbit, trying to chop down a porch post with an axe. “All you people trespass around here!” he yelled at the guard. When the guard went to get a gun, the Bunny Man vanished into the night.

Finally, someone who called himself “the Axe-Man” called up the builders of the subdivision and blamed them for “messing up my property” by dumping tree stumps and branches.

The Axe-Man agreed to meet with the developers, but he never turned up to the appointment, which was staked out by police.

That was the end of the real Bunny Man. Whoever he was, he hung up his rabbit ears and put away his axe. He never actually killed or injured anyone.

But within days of the two incidents getting media coverage, the stories were spreading through playground rumour, mutating into something new and different.

Why do real incidents turn into legends? Because the legends don’t make much sense.

Who was the Bunny Man? What did he want? Was he cranky about local development, maybe mentally ill? Was it an elaborate prank? Did he take a lot of interesting drugs? Maybe he had a grudge against a specific person? We’ll never know, unless he comes forward.

The urban legends around the Bunny Man are crude, and ugly, and built out of cliches. But they have some kind of narrative structure. Urban legends thrive because we’re bombarded with weird stuff that never seems to make sense. An urban legend puts at least a little control back in our hands. We use it to understand. And understanding is something we’re never getting from the tale of a man in the bunnny suit yelling about trespassing.

 

Just Posted

From broad principles to specifics: City Nexus plan enters new phase

‘Transformational’ plan required to ready for arrival of rapid transit, CAO says

High school photo exhibit celebrates Aldergrove’s community

ACSS photography students showcased their work at Langley Arts Council’s grand opening last week.

Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society responds to town centre proposal

Society member Andrew Sigalet says the Janda Group’s plan is ‘the best proposal’ he’s seen to date

BC Ferries has no plans to implement debit for vehicle ticket payments

Debit accepted for foot passengers, on-board purchases for all vessels

Langley’s supportive housing dubbed Creek Stone Place

The project is set to open this spring to house 49 homeless people.

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

Disappearance of Merritt cowboy now deemed suspicious: police

Ben Tyner was reported missing when his riderless horse was discovered on a logging road

Distillers hope federal budget scraps alcohol escalator tax

Tax hike set for April 1, marking third automatic increase in three years time

CBSA warns of delays at South Surrey border

Infrastructure upgrading means lane closures likely, especially March 20-22

Kids found playing darts with syringes in Vancouver Island park

Saanich police is urging people to throw out their syringes properly and safely

5 to start your day

IIO BC probe arrest at Surrey vigil for mosque shooting, Maple Ridge closes homeless evacuation centre and more

‘The whole city has changed:’ B.C. woman in New Zealand reacts to mosque attacks

An expatriate and Muslim students at UBC Okanagan deeply affected by white supremacist shooting

Trudeau condemns hateful, ‘toxic segments’ of society after New Zealand shooting

Prime Minister expressed sorrow at the many attacks in recent years

Air Canada grounds its Boeing Max 8s until at least July 1 to provide certainty

Airlines around the world have been working to redeploy their fleets since their Max 8s were grounded last week

Most Read