An urban legend turned true. The boogeyman of Staten Island was said to be a homicidal madman with a hook for a hand who hunted children and brought them to the abandoned ruins of the old Seaview Hospital, a former tuberculosis sanitarium. Parents would scare their children into behaving by threatening them with Cropsey. Older siblings would tell Cropsey stories at night to terrify their younger brothers and sisters. They could never imagine their horrifying tales would come to life. In 1970, Cropsey was discovered to be a real life homicidal madman who really did hunt children. The madman’s real was name was Andre Rand.
Willowbrook State School was an institution for the mentally disabled in the isolated woods of Staten Island. Rand worked as a janitor at the school. The school was closed in 1987 due to its deplorable and unethical conditions. Shortly after the closure, a young girl with Down Syndrome disappeared from a nearby neighborhood. Rand was arrested in connection with the disappearance of the 12-year old girl. He was found camping on the abandoned grounds of the school, not far from the ruins of the Seaview Hospital that is so closely related to the Cropsey legend. Over the years, Rand built up a poor reputation for himself and had a record of crimes against children.
The missing 12-year old girl wasn’t the only one. At least four other Staten Island children going back a decade had gone missing, but none of the bodies were ever discovered. With the size of this small city, it was unnerving seeing the neighborhood children slowly disappear over the years. The children that went missing were all said to have had mental disabilities and one was even seen with Rand at a diner right before her disappearance.
Family and friends of the victims still search the grounds of the old Willowbrook State School for evidence. Bones of one of the missing children were found nearly a decade later in a shallow grave near the abandoned school. Rand was convicted for two of the kidnappings and charged with two 25-year sentences. He never admitted to the kidnappings or murders of any of the missing children.
Despite Cropsey's incarnation, locals will warn their children to stay clear of the old school. Many homeless people still roam the grounds and call it home. There is a series of underground tunnels with evidence of satanic rituals that have taken place. Rumors linger amongst the homeless citizens of Staten Island that Cropsey did in fact kidnap these children, rapping and murdering them. Most disturbing of all is the rumor that other homeless men were involved and would pass the children around before they were murdered.
If you’re looking for more creepy details about Cropsey, be sure to watch the chilling documentary, Cropsey available on Netflix.