Cropsey

CROPSEY: URBAN LEGEND

CROPSEY

By Margeaux DeMott

 

The legend of Cropsey comes from New York and is now closely associated with Staten Island. Cropsey's affiliation with Staten Island is because of a documentary made in 2009 by Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, titled Cropsey. Their documentary briefly covers that urban legend and purposes a man named Andre Rand could be the aforementioned boogeyman. However, the legend of Cropsey is older than the disappearances of the children that are attributed to Rand. Started as a spooky tale that campers in boy scouts, summer camps, and groups of teenagers would tell around a campfire, Cropsey shares a similar tale common to most boogeymen. Cropsey lives in the woods and preys on the young; from children to young adult campers. The story varies slightly from campfire to campfire. Sometimes he has a hook for a hand, some times his face is burnt, but most often he does his killing with an ax. I have read of people being told the legend going all the way back to the 1950s, and the tale of Cropsey is still being told around campfires to this day. 

The Urban Legend, reprised

Cropsey was a man that lived in a cabin in the woods with his family. He had a wife and two children. He was an upstanding pillar of his community and had an all around good life. Until one fateful day.  A group of campers in the woods started a campfire that they could not handle. The flames spread through the woods and caught Cropsey's home ablaze. His children and wife found themselves trapped inside the house. He tried to get them out but failed. He fell into a deep rage aimed at careless camp goers. Insanity soon took over, and Cropsey moved into the woods to hunt people with his ax. He swore his deadly vengeance on any and all campers he could get his hands on.

The man that became the Urban Legend

The man who would become Cropsey

In their documentary, Zeman and Brancaccio match a man to the myth and put a face to the boogeyman in the form of a person we know as Andre Rand. Throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's strange occurrences  transpired. Several children, and one young adult, on Staten Island went missing. Rand was the prime suspect in these disappearances due to his criminal record involving crimes against children. In 1972 Alice Pereira, nine years old, went missing. She was last seen playing in an apartment lobby with her brother. Her brother said he left Alice alone for a moment and when he returned she was gone. Coincidentally Rand was employed as a painter at this apartment building. In 1981 Holly Ann Hughes, seven years old, never returned home from going to the store with a friend. Her friend reported that Rand drove up in a Volkswagen and pulled Holly into the car. In 1983 Tiahease Jackson, eleven years old, was reported missing after she failed to return from going out to purchase food on her mothers request.  In 1984 Hank Gafforio, twenty-two years old, was reported missing. Hank Gafforio was born with an IQ in the seventies. His last sighting was with Rand in a local diner. In 1987 Jennifer Schweiger, twelve years old, was reported missing and was last seen walking with Rand. Schweiger's body was found on the grounds of the former Willowbrook State School.

Andre Rand was convicted of the kidnapping of Jennifer Schweiger (1988) and later the kidnapping of Holly Ann Hughes (2004) -concurrent sentences of 25 years-to-life. As of the time of this writing he is still living, and will be eligible for parole in 2037 at the age of ninety-three years old. Considering the areas in which he hunted his prey, and the vivid imagination of a pre-internet society, one can easily see where people made the connection from Rand to the legend of Cropsey.

Posted by Margeaux DeMott

1 comment

Fascinating, thanks for this Margeaux, I have the film bookmarked on Netflix, will definitely go and watch it now.

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