Slender Man: the Fictional Online Creature that Drove 2 Young Girls to Stab Their Friend
Could a fictional horror character drive a young person to murder? The people of Waukesha, Wisconsin are currently asking themselves the same question. A few years ago, two young girls nearly murdered a schoolmate in an effort to please a figure simply known as Slender Man. But Slender Man isn’t really a man, nor a human being. He was created in 2009 through a thread of eerie photoshopped images on the Something Awful forum. Quickly growing in popularity, users of other online communities (such as 4Chan and creepypasta.wiki) contributed their own short stories and doctored photos of the mythical creature. Slender Man has been described as unnaturally tall, lacking facial features and preying on children. He lives in the forest, and it is said that if a person kills for him, they will gain his admiration and respect.
Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser were preoccupied with Slender Man. They thought that he was real, always watched them, and could read their minds. The 12-year-olds became convinced that Slender Man would eventually hurt them and their families if they did not kill someone as a sacrifice. They also thought killing someone (young) would gain his approval and they would become his proxies, allowing them to live in his mansion in the Nicolet National Forest. They planned the murder for five months, and on May 31, 2014 they lured their friend into the woods. They stabbed her 19 times and left her for dead, hoping Slender Man was satisfied. Instead, the victim crawled out of the woods and was helped by a cyclist who found her. Paramedics said she was “one millimeter away from death”, as one of the stab wounds was close to a major artery.
During a competency evaluation, psychiatrists discovered that Geyser had early onset schizophrenia, which is rare. While this explains her delusions about Slender Man, it does not explain why Weier would follow her in killing their friend. Were they both mentally ill and predisposed to violence, or did they use Slender Man as an excuse for attempted murder? Did they truly think that Slender Man was real, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny? And why did they not mention Slender Man to their parents or talk to the authorities about Slender Man coming after them? Most likely, more information will become available once the trial starts, which will probably garner even more attention for Slender Man and his horrendous adventures.
This isn’t the first time that a fictional story allegedly drove an adolescent to kill. In 2003, 19-year-old Josh Cooke fatally shot his adopted mother and father at their Fairfax, Virginia home. He believed that he was living inside “The Matrix” and his parents were “controllers”. And in 2014, 14-year-old Eldon Samuel III murdered his father and brother at their Coeur D’Alene, Idaho home. He claimed that was inspired by Trevor from the video game “Grand Theft Auto V”. These murders and the Slender Man case raise many tough questions. Should children have unsupervised access to the internet or a cell phone, and should children be screened for mental illnesses early on?
No matter your opinions of Slender Man, the idea that a fictitious character could drive today's youth to murder seems unimaginable. To illustrate how frightening this character is, I asked my 12-year-old niece if she had ever heard of Slender Man. She immediately responded, "Yes. I don't want to talk about him. Please change the subject." Her response is truly frightening, and a true testament to how impactful Slender Man has become.