August 13, 2010

5 Questions – Friday the 13th Edition!

Posted: 12:11 PM ET

Investigation Discovery

Staten Island natives, Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, directors of the documentary “CROPSEY,” answer our 5 Questions about the urban legend of “Cropsey.”

A real killer or just a campfire boogey man story? They investigated!  Below, read about the disturbing results.

Also, click here for more information on "CROPSEY," the documentary airing on Investigation Discovery and at select screenings across the country.

LKL Blog: Who, or what, is “Cropsey?”

Joshua: It depends on the context of what we’re talking about.  For us, “Cropsey” was the name that we assigned to the kind of urban legend that centered around the Willowbrook State School when we were growing up in Staten Island.  It was a name given to the escaped mental patient who lived in the tunnels and would come after us with an ax if we wandered into the grounds.  At the same time, “Cropsey’s” also a much larger, well known urban legend where a respected member of the community who goes vacationing somewhere in the woods with his wife and newborn child.  Some counselors, campers, and Boy Scouts, end up burning down the cabin.  His wife and child are killed and he goes mad with revenge.  He ends up, a year later, on the anniversary of their death, taking revenge with an ax.

LKL Blog: So when did the urban legend of “Cropsey” become a reality? 

Barbara: When Josh and I first met, we talked immediately about what happened to Jennifer Schweiger.  We both remembered that time period when we were 15 or 16 years old, the summer all our neighbors and people around the island came out to look for her.  We also knew the urban legend of “Cropsey.”  We talked a little bit about when we were kids we would always play in the area in the woods surrounding the Willowbrook State School.  Over the years from 1972, when Geraldo first broke the story, to 1987, when the institution shut down, going into the woods, playing manhunt or having these parties when we were teenagers, it was always this kind of scary, go into the woods and scare yourself.  That was also, when Jennifer disappeared, the location where she was found.  When we went back to go over all the kids who had disappeared off the island, and really make that connection, we were able to see “Cropsey” was an urban legend that really came true.

LKL Blog: Friday the 13th, the most superstitious day on the calendar, as you’re delving into this, and realizing what’s going on, and realizing it’s true, what’s scarier, an urban legend or a real life killer?

Joshua: It’s a combination.  It’s one thing when you think of it as a child, but then as an adult, now you can put the really scary details to it, knowing that it’s true, it makes it that much more scary.  When Barbara and I were making this movie, we’re adults, we may as well been 15 walking in the woods.  There is nothing scarier.  It’s like Scooby Doo!  We’re all tiptoeing, holding on to each other, completely scared.  Truth is scarier than fiction.  This could happen to you or to any body you know, and I think that’s what makes it really scary.

LKL Blog: So Andre Rand, the alleged killer – are kids still scared of him or of “Cropsey?”  Is it still an urban legend on Staten Island?

Barbara: I think when we went out to shoot the film, especially when we were in the woods, and trying to uncover what happened to the kids, we’d be out on Friday the 13th or Halloween night, trying to figure out what was going on in the woods, getting closer and closer.   Before you know it, we’d come upon a bunch of kids, 10 or 15 years younger than us, also looking in the woods for the same answers.  We learned pretty quickly that the kids in Staten Island are still haunted by the urban legend.  Everyone has some memory of a haunted house or a scary place in their own small town or community.  It’s one of these universal themes.

LKL Blog: Is the case closed – is it a 'closed book' for “Cropsey?”

Joshua: How can it be a closed case? There are four missing children whose bodies have never been found.  It’s not closed by a long shot.  All we did is find a way to tell the story and to reach people so that it wasn’t just the same old story being retold.  We wanted to tell a scary story because as kids we were scared and as adults we were scared that someone was taking these children and couldn’t believe these children were never found.

All we did is create a framework to raise the larger question, where are these kids and how come we can’t find them?  There’s still some unfinished business here.

Filed under: 5 Questions • Crime

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IKHAN   August 13th, 2010 1:45 pm ET

Good evening Larry,
Hi folks.
'Cropsey' step aside. Something more interesting has cropped up.
well the buzz is that we have one more nut case in the House belonging to what else GOP. Rep. Gohmert with his 'terror babies' theory.

Rep. Gohmert seems to desperately prove that he is a moron of the highest order & perhaps we should go along. Not that this kind of rubbish is off the GOP track they & their heroes in the past admn have been playing on fear, phobia & hate to promote their agenda & that continues.
The theme now would be racism & phobia.

IKHAN   August 13th, 2010 1:54 pm ET

Hi Larry,
today's Friday the 13th & we already have a horror-comedy character at hand in the person of Rep.Gohmert(R).
He claims that illegal immigrants get pregnant & then come here to give birth to 'terror babies' who once they are granted citizenship are taken back & raised as terrorists to enter US after say 20 or 30 years later to attack us.And this is his logic to promote laws akin to what Arizona passed.

Not that this tactic is new for GOP. They & their heroes in the previous admn have been playing on fear, hate & phobias to get what they want. That continues today.
The theme now would be racism & phobia

Islander   August 13th, 2010 8:18 pm ET

Geraldo actually didn't break the story. It first was developed by a print reporter, Jane Curtin, then at the Staten Island Advance. Geraldo picked it up and took it to a broadcast dimension. Just wanted to give credit to the local paper and to Jane, where it is due.

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