Graveyard Shift

12 Facts About Willowbrook, the Nightmare Institution Behind the Cropsey Legend

The Willowbrook State School of Staten Island was like the setting of a horror movie, except the agonizing screams, filthy rooms, and the stench of death in the air was very real. The school staff was entrusted to teach and care for mentally disabled children, but instead they exposed them to diseases and subjected them to horrifying abuse.

It’s no surprise that an institution like this would become the center of creepy lore. Every town has its local urban legends, and in the case of Staten Island, New York, their biggest legend is that of Cropsey, the child-killing lunatic who dwells in the tunnels beneath the ruins of the infamous Willowbrook School and its surrounding forests. Unlike most small-town lore however, this horror story happened to come true.