Everyone, as children, we have had some fear. Sometimes it was a monster in our closet or a ghost hanging from the ceiling lamp. Even sometimes it was the parents who invented these terrifying figures with the sole purpose of keeping the children at bay a bit naughty. But it is not as innocent as it seems, nor as harmless, since some of those monsters turn out to be real . The man in the royal coat has a name and is called Cropsey.
If we place ourselves in Staten Island (New York) , in the middle of the 20th century, we will realize that it was a pretty scary place for younger children. The urban legend tells the story of Cropsey, a serial killer who threatened young children . As often happens with urban legends, there are many versions of the same legend.
Cropsey, the man with the royal sack, and Willowbrook
Most versions about the man in the royal coat often disagree with Cropsey's way of killing; sometimes he appeared wielding a sharp ax, sometimes he carried a hook in one hand and, on other occasions, he happened to be the caretaker of a camp and his body was covered in unpleasant scars.
Although there are numerous versions, there is a characteristic that is repeated in all of them and is its origin: the Willowbrook State School.
The Willowbrook State School opened in 1947 and gave shelter to children with intellectual or physical disabilities. Soon it overflowed, because although initially, had a capacity for about 4000 children, came to count, in 1965, with more than 6000.
Because of this excess of patients, the state of those who had to receive care from the institution was deplorable: they lived in misery and even suffered from infectious diseases such as hepatitis, for which they received no treatment. They even reached do experiments with them .
Robert Kennedy He visited the institution and was so impressed that he called it "a pit of snakes" . Not in vain, it was a place where patients had less personal space than prisoners in prisons. Affected by this, he even drafted an improvement plan but did not change anything.
Willowbrook remained open beyond the 1980s, but it closed its doors definitively in 1987. This institution never enjoyed a good reputation among the inhabitants of Staten Island. But in reality the institution, although it was guilty of negligence, had nothing to do with those stories of real terror that were woven around them. It is believed that the culprit of these horrors was related to Willowbrook, but he was a man who acted on his own. The man with the royal coat, Cropsey His name was Andre Rand and he was one of the employees of the institution.
The man, the monster
As we told you, The man in the royal coat has a name and is Andre Rand, Willowbrook's janitor. Rand felt so attached to the institution that he even went camping in the surrounding forests. In 1969 he was arrested for assaulting a girl and was imprisoned for 11 more cases of kidnapping. He came to serve his sentence but that did not stop him, once fulfilled, continue to escalate in his atrocities. The disappearance of 12-year-old Jennifer Schweiger was reported on July 9, and a witness claimed to have seen Rand walking Schweiger away from his home. Before these testimonies in the trial, he confessed in court. 35 days after Jennifer's disappearance was reported, Schweiger's body was found in a shallow grave in the Willowbrook site.
He was never convicted for the murder of Schweiger for lack of evidence, but he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his kidnapping. It was believed that the case of Jennifer was not the only one and that surely the man in the royal coat was responsible for other disappearances; Alice Pereia, 5 years old, disappeared in 1972 from the lobby of her family's apartment building, where at that time Rand worked as a painter. Holly Ann Hughes was also kidnapped in a similar way, although in her case, some witnesses claimed to have seen Rand with the girl in his car. Similarly, Tiahease Jackson, 11, and Henry Gafforio, 21, disappeared shortly after being seen with Rand or a man who matched Rand's description.
Of all these disappearances, only the case of Jennifer Schweiger was closed because the body was found. Even so, in 2004, Rand, the man with the royal coat, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the kidnapping of those children. Until 2037 will not be possible a conditional freedom and we can not really be sure that Rand murdered all those children, however the signs are so clear that it is worthwhile to take the man out of the royal sack of the streets a good season, do not you think ?
What do you think about the history of the man with the royal coat? Do you think the nickname is correct? Tell us what fears you had of you as a child, monsters, spirits, the man with the sack? Without a doubt, sometimes, reality surpasses our worst nightmares in cruelty. If you know more similar stories, write us a comment and we will try to investigate those cases that scare you and that sound like pure fiction because of the concern that removes us from the inside knowing about them.