‘Cropsey’, a kidnapper who reportedly stalked the tunnels and halls of an abandoned Staten Island mental institution, was nothing more than a hook-handed, axe-wielding urban legend until 1987, when a real body was found.
The Name Cropsey
Cropsey is a Hudson Valley catchall phrase for a psycho who preys on innocent children.
‘Cropsey’ was born Frank Rushan March 11th, 1944. He changed his name to Andre Rand in 1968 after working as a janitor at the Willowbrook mental institution.
Cropsey’s Rap Sheet
May 25th, 1969– Rand had his first brush with the law when he abducted and tried to have sex with a 9-year-old girl. He was caught before the assault occurred and served 16 months for attempted sexual assault.
1979 – Accused of raping a young woman and a 15-year-old girl but since neither pressed charges, Rand was never indicted.
1981 – Tried to entice a 9-year-old girl into his car with candy. When she refused, he followed her home. She hid from him and no charges were filed. Another little girl, Holly Ann Hughes, was not so lucky. She disappeared in the summer of 1981 and has never been found.
1983 – Drove to the Staten Island YMCA and picked up a group of 11 children, bought them White Castle and took them to the Newark Airport to watch the planes. Though no children were harmed, Rand was charged with unlawful imprisonment for which he served 10 months in jail.
10-year-old Tiahease Tiawanna Jackson disappeared on August 14th, 1983.
1987 – 12-year-old Jennifer Schweiger, a little girl with Down’s Syndrome, disappeared on July 9th, 1987. A month later, her nude body was found in a shallow grave near Rand’s campsite on the grounds of Willowbrook State Mental Facility.
One of the unusual characteristics of Andre Rand is that most of his victims were usually random strangers. Most kidnappers either know or are at least somewhat acquainted with their victims.
In 2002, Andre Rand was found guilty of the 1987 kidnapping of Jennifer Schweiger and given 25 years to life in prison.
In 2004, Rand was indicted in the 1983 disappearance of 10-year-old Tiahease Tiawanna Jackson.
Among Cropsey’s Missing
The bodies of four people are still unaccounted for including Alice Pereia, Holly Ann Hughes, Tiahease Tiawanna Jackson & Henry Gafforio. Audrey Lyn Nergenberg, an eighteen-year-old who disappeared in 1977, is also believed to be linked to Rand.
Cropsey’s Urban Legend Brought To Life
The legend of Cropsey has been turned into a documentary created by two Staten Island filmmakers, Joshua Zeman & Barbara Brancaccio. Find out more by going to their website here.
Turns out Cropsey never needed the hook hand or the axe of the urban legend that sprung up around him. Andre Rand was terrifying enough on his own.