How the 'Slender Man' urban legend inspired two 12-year-old girls to stab their classmate NINETEEN times

The idea of "Slender Man" came into existence in 2009 when a teacher edited photos to come up with an impossibly tall man who wore a black suit as part of a photoshop contest. 


                            How the 'Slender Man' urban legend inspired two 12-year-old girls to stab their classmate NINETEEN times

The idea of "Slender Man" came into existence in 2009 when a teacher edited photos to come up with an impossibly tall man who wore a black suit as part of a photoshop contest. 

Eric Knudsen, who now lives in Florida, shared the image along with some creepy text on the forum 'Something Awful', to "formulate something whose motivations can barely be comprehended, and [which caused] unease and terror in a general population."

However, he never expected that his creation would blow up to become popular culture figure in the collective imagination of online users. Over the years, the Slender Man has managed to ignite fear into the minds of the people, and has cropped up in books, movies, documentaries, video games among others. 



While Eric did not highlight what could have been the motivation behind his creation, contributors now claim that the Slender Man could drive a person to commit horrific acts in his name, and also added that he could turn young people insane. This phenomenon has been referred to as ‘open-sourcing horror’ in the book 'Folklore, Horror Stories, and the Slender Man', by Shira Chess and Eric Newsom, academics in the field of journalism and communications.

As reported by Unilad, Shira and Eric note that "Carolyn Miller refers to the genre as a form of ‘social action’ where individuals communally negotiate generic expectations, themes, and styles. These genre negotiations resonate even more in online spaces where content and form are constantly shifting with new technologies. Horror, as a genre, is particularly well established and robust, and the history and past traditions of horror helped those involved in the open-sourcing process to understand and establish both known and new conventions."



They further noted, "The Something Awful forum maintained both traditional mass media (citing references to the film Phantasm as well as to the written works of H.P. Lovecraft), while simultaneously debugging and reforming the creation of the most horrific and terrifying monster they could collectively conceive." It was in this online realm two 12-year-old girls from Wisconsin – Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, came across the myth of the Slender Man. 

In May 2014, Anissa and Morgan attempted to murder their friend, Payton ‘Bella’ Leutner, by stabbing her 19 times in order to show their loyalty towards the mythical figure. Payton, fortunately, survived the attack. The two girls were found by the police walking along the interstate to Nicolet National Forest. The two girls hoped to find the mansion of Slender Man and in turn become his servant. They later told officers they needed to kill Payton so the sinister figure wouldn’t come for their families.

Both the girls were sentenced to long spells in psychiatric units. Morgan was sentenced to 40 years while Anissa was given 25 years. However, the phenomenon of people getting wrapped up in fantasy and not paying attention to reality is not new. This case of the girls has also been compared to 1954 Parker-Hulme murder, in Christchurch, New Zealand. In this case, two close teenage friends, Pauline Parker (16) and Juliet Hulme (15), murdered Pauline’s mother, Honorah Rieper.

Pauline and Juliet’s parents had become worried about their daughters as the teenagers often claimed that they were able to enter ‘the Fourth World’, which was a fantastical realm only a few chosen people could see. 

The mystical world that the girls wanted to enter together seemed to become a dream after Juliet’s parents told her that they wanted to move her overseas. The girls believed her death would allow them to pursue exciting lives as famous writers in Hollywood.

At the time of the Slender Man stabbing, retired FBI agent John Egelhof described the internet as ‘black hole that kids can fall into for a variety of reasons’. "Kids have a secret world that we don’t know about. That secret world is far more sinister than ours when we were young. It’s a problem we as a society have to face," he said.