The Bunny Man Unmasked - Page 4

The Bunny Man Unmasked:
The Real Life Origins of an Urban Legend

~ continued ~

The Breakthrough

After re-reading Johnson's paper several times I finally noted that she heard the tale for the first time around Halloween 1970. Having no better leads I began a systematic search of the Washington Post for October of that year in hopes of finding the previously cited news article. I was elated (and not a little surprised) to find the following:

Man in Bunny Suit Sought in Fairfax33
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.

When I began this project the aspect that puzzled me most was the bunny suit. I expected to find that the legend was spawned by an event that was strange or in some way notable, but I never suspected the Bunny Man really was a "Bunny Man." I was even further surprised to find a second appearance recorded two weeks later:

The "Rabbit" Reappears34
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.

Two documented appearances by a bunny-suited figure in the same Fairfax County community. Was this the Bunny Man or just copy-cats acting out stories they had heard from somewhere else? I again turned to Johnson's paper for clues. As mentioned earlier 14 of her tales mention a couple in a parked car being attacked, but nine of these specifically mention a hatchet being thrown into the car. Of the five mentioning vandalism, two describe "columns" being chopped. The story told by 17-year-old G. Taylor was particularly revealing. She related:

"I think it was last year or maybe before that. I came home from school. I was listening to the news. I had just gotten in and I heard there was a man and a woman sitting in a car. It could have been teenagers, but they were just parked and all. And all of a sudden, they looked up and there was this bunny. You know, this giant bunny just ran out of the woods, you know, from behind the trees and all. And he ran in front of the car. And he had a hatchet, and he threw it through the car and just turned around and went back away. They were just shocked. They just sat there and watched. Then an old man came out of the house and warned them to get off of his property. You know, they tried to explain and everything but he just wouldn't listen. And then, they took it to the police afterwards. And the police, you know, went back and all and asked him if he had seen anything. And nobody had seen it. Until a couple of days later, then a lot of people were saying that they had seen the bunny man. And then, after that, the police tried to investigate, but they couldn't get anything. And then they found these places that sell costumes and all. And they found that it hadn't been but three people that had .. Uhm .. Bought costumes. Then they, you know, long put theirs away and brought them back and all. And it wasn't them. And nobody every found out about the bunny man. It just went on for a couple of weeks and then it died out."35

Miss Taylor's recollections are important for a number of reasons. First, she identifies the television news as her source of information. Second, she accurately relates the hatchet thrown into the occupied car, the teenage couple, the accusation of trespassing, and police involvement. Third, she states that it went on for "a couple of weeks" then stopped. Lastly, she identifies the time frame to within six months. The October 22 news story is clearly the origin of the tale she told. Moreover, although the story had mutated noticeably in 22 years, many of Johnson's 53 other versions also contain recognizable elements of the October 1970 incidents. Newspapers accounts and oral reports can be revealing, but neither can be trusted to be completely accurate. It was time to look for more trustworthy records.

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33Man in Bunny Suit Sought in Fairfax. Washington Post. Oct. 22, 1970, B2.

34The "Rabbit" Reappears. Washington Post. Oct. 31, 1970. B1.

35Johnson, P.31.text

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