This may be a first. Slenderman has gotten out of hand – attempted murder connected to the mythological monster. Two young girls are charged adults with first-degree attempted homicide of another girl.
Prosecutors say two 12-year-old southeastern Wisconsin girls stabbed their 12-year-old friend nearly to death in the woods to please a mythological creature they learned about online.
One of the girls told a detective they were trying to become “proxies” of Slender Man, a mythological demon-like character they learned about on creepypasta.wikia.com, a website about horror stories and legends. They planned to run away to the demon’s forest mansion after the slaying, the complaint said.
The girls seemed out of touch with reality and had been planning this for months. Slenderman is a fictional character with a complex history who was created online in a fiction forum. I wrote about Slenderman for Fortean Times magazine after interviewing folkore and monster experts including Benjamin Radford (hat tip to him for this story).
(The) Slenderman was born from a photo editing contest on the Something Awful web forums in 2009 when “Victor Surge” submitted two images – spooky portraits groups of children. Subtle, in the background, was a tall, thin faceless entity in a black suit – his arms like tentacles, his head smooth and pale. Within five days of the post, there existed a narrative of death and bad luck to go along with the photos. Since then, Slenderman has evolved via videos, YouTube series, alternate reality games (ARGs), fan art, online horror stories and even parodies that are less scary (such as Trenderman and Splendorman).
Radford (author of Tracking the Chupacabra and Hoaxes, Myths and Manias) described Slenderman as “a tall, thin, generally silent but menacing stranger in a prim suit,” Children are the victims of this bogeymen.
Author J. Scott Poole (Monsters in America) notes Slenderman “owes much to Nosferatu and Freddy Krueger. Both cross between the land of nightmare and reality, as looming forms in the distance.”
Even though we KNOW Slenderman is not real but a imaginary monster, he seems to have crossed the line to reality for some people who say they actually see him in physical form. Did these girls think they saw him and could interact with him? Is there something seriously wrong when children (and adults) can not differntiate fiction from factual life? This is very frightening indeed.
For more on Slenderman, go to
Rev. Robin Swope, a pastor at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Erie, Pa., believes the Internet-generated monster is real. In his book “Slenderman: From Fiction to Fact,” Swope states that, after years of reviewing stories sent to him by people who claim to have encountered the elusive monster, he has concluded that Slenderman is a literal demonic entity: “We can come to the conclusion that Slenderman is real. The archetype of death that Slenderman embodies is not an archetype at all. Slenderman is the archetype. He is indeed death personified who from countless ages past has hunted down humanity with a relentless determination. If you see him as a child he will forever haunt your dreams and your waking nightmares… There is nothing you can do about it, it is inevitable. Begging and screaming are useless; Slenderman makes no bargains and takes no bribes. Slenderman is coming for you,” he concludes his (non-fiction) book.
According to Rev. Swope, Christian faith and prayer are the only defenses against Slenderman.
*facepalm* Adults live in fantasy worlds too.
UPDATE (4-June-2014) There has been discussion about blame in this case. Here is a piece from Australian news that suggests there may be a Slenderman cult.
The criminal complaint filed over the Milwaukee attack quotes one of the girls as saying: “Many people do not believe Slender Man is real. [We] wanted to prove the sceptics wrong.”
This is the crux of the problem.
The administrators of the CreepyPasta site – the forum where the Slenderman legend evolved – expressed their sympathy but were also attacked for promoting fan fiction and horror without age restrictions. Some people have called for censorship and the site to be shut down.
Ridiculous! This is the same shallow, thoughtless arguments that come up wheneven any popular culture item is connected to a serious crime. People go nuts and try to ban or label movies, records, books. That is wrong in so many ways. Clearly the millions of people who participate in World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons, fan fiction and horror and heavy metal music are not killers. The media does not create criminals. To suggest so is absurd.
Indeed this incident has little to do with the website and more to do with our complex society and kids growing up facing it.
“There is a line of between fiction and reality, and it is up to you to realise where the line is. We are a literature site, not a crazy satanic cult.”
“So while I understand and accept that some people will blame us as a way to channel their anger and grief, I simply cannot agree,” the Creepypasta statement reads.
“We live in a culture with a very unhealthy relationship with mental illness. People with mental health issues are frequently dismissed, shamed and, and often ignored or denied necessary treatment.”
“The fact of the matter is it can’t be that simple. Most people don’t watch Hannibal and turn into serial killers … You can insert countless examples here of people enjoying popular culture without acting it out in real life, so I hope that you see my point.”
UPDATE (5-June-2014) I was contacted by my local news station to talk about this story. Ben Radford noted he was contacted by media as well, mentioning Slendy has “legs” as well as tentacles. This is an interesting blog from Jason Colavito.
Note this part:
The Slender Man stabbings also have an uncanny echo of a recent episode of Supernatural (S09E15), based on the same internet meme, in which two disturbed young men commit murder in the name of a fictitious “Thinman,” invented as a publicity stunt by the Ghostfacers. There, however, Thinman served as an intentionally false cover for the killers’ underlying psychopathy. So far no one has blamed Supernatural for inducing anyone to kill.
Check out Jason’s thoughts.