On Saturday in Waukesha, Wisconsin, two 12-year-old girls allegedly stabbed their friend 19 times in the woods after a slumber party. Their 12-year-old victim, a friend from middle school, narrowly survived, an artery near her heart missed by a millimeter. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier are, so far, being charged as adults with attempted first-degree murder, punishable by up to 60 years in prison, with bail set at $500,000 each. The stabbing, they told police, was in the name of the Slender Man, an internet meme.
What the hell is going on here?
The girls had been planning to sacrifice their friend, who has not been named, for months, according to the criminal complaint, as reported by the AP. "As they left for the park ... [the victim] was walking in front of them and Geyser lifted up the left side of her white jacket and displayed the knife tucked in her waistband. Weier stated she gave Geyser a look with wide eyes and, when asked what that meant Weier stated, 'I thought, dear god, this was really happening.'"
Once in the forest, the girls arranged a game of hide-and-seek, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
Geyser was the first "seeker," and Weier and the victim hid. Weier told the victim where to hide and told her to lie facedown in the dirt. The girl refused. Weier then pushed the victim and sat on her, thinking Geyser could stab her. But the victim began to yell and complain that she couldn't breathe. She was attracting attention, so Weier got off her.
Geyser gave Weier the knife, but Weier said she told Geyser she was too squeamish and gave it back.
Weier said that once Geyser got the knife back, Geyser told Weier, "I'm not going to until you tell me to." Weier said she started walking away from Geyser and then told her, "Go ballistic, go crazy." Geyser said she would go ballistic, and Weier said, "Now."
"I hate you. I trusted you," the victim reportedly screamed before the girls left her for dead. Somehow, she survived and was discovered by a cyclist who called 911:
The victim is now reportedly in stable condition.
"Both suspects had a fascination with a fictitious character," called Slender Man, the local police chief said. Originating in a creepy Photoshop contest on the Something Awful forums, a cesspool of black comedy and spiritual cousin to 4chan, the Slender Man was created by a man named Eric Knudsen, according to Know Your Meme:
Slender Man (a.k.a Slenderman) is a mythical creature often depicted as a tall, thin figure wearing a black suit and a blank face. According to the legend, he can stretch or shorten his arms at will and has tentacle-like appendages protruding from his back.
The character spread through illustrations on sites like DeviantArt, popped up in various web series, and was even the subject of a film project that railed more than $11,000 on Kickstarter last year.
But Weier and Geyser reportedly encountered Slender Man in the fan fiction community known as Creepypasta. According to the Creepypasta Wiki, a "creepypasta is a short story posted on the Internet that is designed to unnerve and shock the reader." Slender Man is a recurring character:
Much of the fascination with Slender Man is rooted in the overall aura of mystery that he is wrapped in. Despite the fact that it is rumored he kills children almost exclusively, it is difficult to say whether or not his only objective is slaughter.
Often times it is either reported or recorded that he can be found in sections of woods, and these generally tend to be suburban. He also has been reported seen with large groups of children, as many photographs portray. It is commonly thought that he resides in woods and forests and preys on children. He seems unconcerned with being exposed in the daylight or captured in photos.
The criminal complaint states that Weier and Geyser believed they could become "proxies" for Slender Man, and would be wisked away to his haunted mansion for carrying out the murder. From the Journal Sentinel:
After school on Friday, Weier told police, she and Geyser went to Weier's house, where she packed a backpack with clothes, granola bars, water bottles and a picture of her mother, father and siblings. She didn't want to forget what her family looked like after leaving for Slender's mansion.
Geyser reportedly told police that Slender Man watches over her, reads her mind, and can teleport. She said she'd never met him.
The lurid details of the would-be killing — especially with young girls at the center, an extreme rarity — make the story the perfect grist for a panic that plays on both cable news (think CNN's Nancy Grace–fueled coverage of the Jodi Arias and Casey Anthony trials) and online. Early attempts by attorneys for the accused to have reporters removed from the room as they fight to have proceedings moved to juvenile court have been rejected and the resulting images are hard to look away from.
Meanwhile, proud weirdo communities like Creepypasta exist just below the surface of popular consciousness, but are easily accessible to anyone, providing endless, bizarre fringe details that look especially crazy out of context. In a statement on the site yesterday titled "Fiction, Reality, and You," an administrator explained:
Something like this was bound to happen, considering the size of the Creepypasta community. All it takes is one person to do something insane and radical in the name of someone or something.
This is an isolated incident, and does not represent or attribute the Creepypasta community as a whole. This wiki does not endorse or advocate for the killing, worship, and otherwise replication of rituals of fictional works. There is a line of between fiction and reality, and it is up to you to realize where the line is. We are a literature site, not a crazy satanic cult.
The site is obviously not to blame. "The bad part of me wanted her to die, the good part of me wanted her to live," Weier told police. Geyser said they had to do it, or "he would kill our family." And although she acknowledged that what they did was "probably wrong," Geyser said, "It was weird that I didn't feel remorse."