What began as a story of an adolescent found stabbed and her two friends gone missing quickly turned into one of the most bizarre attempted murder cases of recent years. When 12-year-olds Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier were found at a furniture store in Waukesha, Wisconsin, across town from the sidewalk near Rivera Drive and Big Bend Road where their friend was found stabbed 19 times on her arms, torso, and legs. She identified Morgan and Anissa as her attackers, and the girls were taken into custody where they had a truly bizarre tale to tell.
It was all for Slenderman.
Anissa first learned about Slenderman on Creepypasta, a website primarily dedicated to internet urban legends and horror fiction, where she discovered that he was “the leader of Creepypasta”. (If you’re confused by that statement, join the club.) In the chain of command, beneath Slenderman is killers, then “proxies”. To become a proxy and “show your devotion to Slenderman”, someone must commit murder. They planned to murder their friend then pay a visit to Slenderman, who lives in “a mansion in Nicolet National Forest“, and become his proxies. Anissa explained to police that she wanted to “prove the skeptics wrong” and show that Slenderman is real.
After school on May 30th, Morgan and Anissa packed and met up with their friend/victim and headed off to Skateland until 9:30PM when they returned to Morgan’s home for an impromptu sleepover party. The plan was to kill the girl while she was sleeping around 2 AM, but for some unknown reason they decided against it. Instead, the following day, all three girls went to Davids Park In the park bathroom, Morgan handed Anissa a knife she’d grabbed before leaving home. Anissa said she couldn’t do it and had a breakdown. The trio decided to play hide and seek then, during which Morgan tackled the victim and stabbed her repeatedly. They fled on foot to Walmart while their victim crawled for her life to Big Bend Road.
While neither Morgan or Anissa felt remorse for what they did, they believed if they hadn’t done it that “he” would’ve killed their families (though Morgan said she didn’t know who “he” was). Upon learning the full story of the crime, Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack told reporters, “Both suspects had a fascination with a fictitious character that often posted to a website that is a collection of small stories about death and horror. Parents should not be allowing their children to have unrestricted or unmonitored internet usage –whether it be on their computer on their smart phone on their PlayStation. All of those accesses to the outside world.”
By most accounts, the origin of the Slenderman internet legend (or creepypasta) is a 2009 contest entry to create a new fictional paranormal being on the SomethingAwful forums written by a “Victor Surge” showing a strange, faceless, unimaginably tall figure photoshopped into playground photos and claiming to be “One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as “The Slender Man”.” Victor was inspired by Stephen King, Lovecraft, and Burroughs (as well as stories of Mothman and shadow people) in the creation of his creature. During a 2010 interview, Victor spoke about his creature’s widespread fame:
It was amazing to see people create their own little part of Slender Man in order to perpetuate his existence. I didn’t expect it to move beyond the SA forums. And when it did, I found it interesting to watch as sort of an accelerated version of an urban legend. It differs from the prior concept of the urban legend in that it is on the Internet, and this both helps and harms the status of the Slender Man as one. In my personal opinion, an urban legend requires an audience ignorant of the origin of the legend. It needs unverifiable third and forth hand (or more) accounts to perpetuate the myth. On the Internet, anyone is privy to its origins as evidenced by the very public SomethingAwful thread. But what is funny is that despite this, it still spread… by making something at the right place and time it can swell into an “Internet Urban Legend”.
Though it’s admittedly pure fiction, Slenderman bears some resemblance to tall, slim malevolent beings from German and Native American folktales. Yet the “Paranormal Pastor” Robin Swope goes so far as to say that Slenderman is anything but fiction. He even wrote a book proclaiming that Slenderman is a real, demonic being. Undoubtedly, this only makes matters worse for young minds eager to believe anything they read on the internet as gospel truth.
The Creepypasta website issued a statement in regards to the stabbing, defending itself from some of the media’s wild accusations and ignorance on both the site and creepypasta as a whole:
I think that most of you will understand when I say it’s hard to justify pinning blame on an entire genre of writing. Unless you’re okay with blaming the world’s ills on Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft, I don’t believe that it makes sense to say paranormal writing or an interest in the macabre should be blamed or even used as an indicator of a “sick” person (as a few emails have already felt the need to call both myself and all the authors here). The human race has long held and encouraged a fascination with things that go bump in the night… But if I may be so bold, I don’t believe that it’s the fault of Slenderman or horror writing in general that this happened… Disordered thinking can be terrifying and stressful and I just want to reiterate: if you think you might be suffering from any sort of mental health issue, know that you are not alone and that you can find help.