When I attended sleep away camp as a kid in Pennsylvania, a small section of the grounds was off limits, not because the staff said so, but because of a frightening legend known as Cropsey. Any area with a rundown facility became Cropsey territory and if there was a bright orange moon, watch out, because that’s a Cropsey moon. The rumors of an evil man that roamed the night ran rampant, but deep down nobody really believed them to be true; the stories of Cropsey were more of a source of entertainment. The kids living on Staten Island may have had a similar myth, but as documentary filmmakers Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio discovered, their bogeyman wasn’t entirely mythical.
Cropsey begins as the legend the filmmakers heard as kids, a fun excuse to venture out into the woods of Staten Island for a night of terror fueled by terrible tales of a local maniac who preys on unsuspecting children. The infamous fable unnervingly became a reality in 1987, when the body of 12-year-old Jennifer Schweiger was found buried outside the defunct Willowbrook State School. Not only had the legend of Cropsey become a reality, but strikingly, the bogeyman had a name, Andre Rand.
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