Remember the “Attic Man?” Surely a good number of our older Rockbridge readers do! This creepy prowler turned scary camp fire story is all based on a true story that took place in the county in the 60s-70s.
Story of the Attic Man
The Attic Man is a nickname given to a serial home invader and burglar. What made the Attic Man so infamous, as well as scary and potentially dangerous, was the fact that it is commonly believed that he would actually hide in homes (in the attic as his name suggests) for a number of days. When the home was empty, the unknown prowler would venture down into the home and do what he wanted, often stealing small items or slightly rearranging furniture or tables. Families who were targeted by the Attic Man were often confused and paranoid, feeling like someone had been in their house (or potentially still in it) but not knowing for sure.
One such victim, Eddie Coleridge, would recount his story of the Attic Man:
I would come home from work, and have trouble finding things that always had their own place. Remotes, pens, books, whatever, it’s like they had a mind of their own and were moving around the house. I thought I was losing it, or possibly sleep walking or something. I just couldn’t understand why suddenly I couldn’t remember where something was, why was this or that in the kitchen instead of the living room where I last put it? But after a few days everything went back to normal. I thought I had some sort of mental episode.
About a year after that craziness, I was hearing talks around town of people saying the exact same thing. That’s when we started getting paranoid. Soon after, one of the newspapers came up with the term “Attic Man.” Curious, I went up in my own attic. Found a few things that had gone missing, like a blanket, a flashlight, a bottle, stuff like that. That’s when I realized he had been in my house too.
Still freaks me out thinking about it, I tell you.
Sylvia Reynolds, who was a deputy at that time and would later become a county sheriff, spoke about the mysterious “Attic Man” and suggested it was one of his strangest cases. Reynolds said:
We had this guy who was prowling around Rockbridge some years back, a real creeper type. It was either ’62 or ’63 when it started, we kept getting calls from folks who said they would notice things missing or moved around in their homes. At first we dismissed it, I mean nothing serious was stolen and there wasn’t much we could do with people saying “the candles that were always on the mantle were moved onto the kitchen table.” Anyways, after we got the 5th or 6th type of that call within a couple months we started to piece it together and think something was going on. Someone was breaking into these people’s homes and moving things, making a mess, stealing small knickknacks. We sent out alerts and flyers for people to make sure all doors and windows were locked, because more often than not it seemed this guy was climbing in a window or finding the unlocked back door.
Anyways things really picked up in ’65 and the next year or two. More break-ins, but this guy started showing off. Stealing larger and more expensive items, leaving little drawings of a fox on paper or notebooks that the families had out in plain sight. But what really made us nervous was when we had two instances of citizens calling us saying they seemed to be hit several days in a row. They swore they locked everything up, but somehow this guy kept getting in unnoticed and screwing around with them. Well, about a week after the activity stopped for one of these families one of them went into their attic. Want to know what they saw? Food scraps and leftovers, wrappers, several cups that had been missing from the kitchen the week before. Yeah, you guessed it. This prowler had actually been living unnoticed in their attic for three to four days, coming out during the day when the family was at work and school. After being called I went over to the [Redacted]’s who had been hit earlier with similar complaints. Sure enough they had an attic, and sure enough I saw signs that this hooligan had been staying up in there.
Long story short we got the news out, lot of people got freaked out and were doing things like bolting their attics shut and boarding up their doors and windows at night. We got maybe a few more complaints over the next few years but nothing like it was before this guy made the front page. I guess all the publicity spooked him out also!
Lock Your Attic Doors!
While the “Attic Man” was never captured, his legend lives on. Whoever they were though, they are no doubt long gone. So next time you hear footsteps in the middle of the night, don’t worry… it’s probably not the Attic Man!