Slenderman: Everything You Need To Know
The Debrief: Here's everything you need to know about Slenderman and the tragedy that he inspired.
Update (29th July, 2016): On Wednesday the state appeals court ruled that Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier will be tried as adults and could face up to 65 years in prison if found guilty. According to The Cut, they are reportedly able to appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and a status conference has been scheduled for 19th August.
In May 2014, two 12 year old girls stabbed their friend in the name of the fictional, internet character Slenderman. Since then, the case has inspired a HBO documentary and a feature film about Slenderman is set to start production later this year. Here's everything you need to know about Slenderman and the tragedy that he inspired.
Who is Slenderman?
Slenderman is typically faceless, extremely tall and wears a black suit and tie with a white shirt. He has long arms, as well as tentacle-like arms that protude from his back and help him to catch his victims.
He’s often seen before a child or children go missing. People aren't exactly sure how he kills his victims (they're exclusively children) because there are never any bodies left behind but one website says he asks his victim one question and if they get it right, he breaks their arms and legs. If they get it wrong he pulls their heart out through their throat.
Many describe how he likes to psychologically terroise his victims too: infiltrating their lives, getting inside their minds, looking into their windows and generally freaking them out until they develop ‘Slender Sickness’ – nosebleeds and nausea. Once you see him, you know that he will eventually get you.
One of the main things about Slenderman is the mystery around him which makes it difficult to nail down an exact description of his intentions and desires – after all, he's fictional.
Is Slenderman real?
No. Slenderman originated on the Something Awful forums in 2009 and created by the user Victor Surge (real name Eric Knudsen) in a thread where people were posting creepy, photoshopped images. Knudsen joined in, uploading two photographs with ‘Slenderman’ photoshopped into the background, along with captions to set the scene.
'We didn't want to go, we didn't want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time…
— 1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead.'
'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”. Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.
— 1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.'
Slenderman went viral, other users joined in and gradually, an entire myth was created. There are now games, memes and amateur films and documentaries based on him.
The Slenderman stabbing
On Saturday 31st May, 2014 in Waukesha, Wisconsin two 12 year olds Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier were at Morgan's house with their friend Payton ‘Bella’ Leutner. They'd had a sleepover and they headed to a wooded grassy area near her house. It's here that Morgan revealed to Anissa that she'd taken a knife from her kitchen. They stabbed Bella 19 times. Miraculously, Bella actually survived the attack and was able to crawl to the side of the road where she was found by a cyclist. She’s now back at school.
After Anissa came across Slenderman on Creepypasta, she told Morgan about him in November and in December/January the girls started to discuss killing Bella. According to New York magazine, in their polic interviews both girls ‘blamed' the other for the crime but it's Morgan who is said to have committed the actual stabbing after Anissa told Morgan 'Kitty now. Go ballistic, go crazy.' – apparently Morgan liked to imagine herself as a cat. Morgan told the police 'I didn’t want to make Anissa mad. It’s hard enough to make friends. I don’t want to lose someone over something like this.'
The girls told the officers that they’d tried to kill Leutner as a sacrifice for Slenderman; believing that if they didn’t, he’d harm their families. Anissa said that through this act, they hoped to become proxies or puppets of Slenderman, therefore gaining his protection and going to live in a mansion in the forest with him.
Last August it was ruled that the pair would be tried as adults for 'attempted first degree intentional homicide' meaning if they're found guilty they could face up to 45 years in jail. In Wisconsin law, anyone above the age of 10 years old accused of the most serious crimes are charged as adults although they can request to be transferrred back to a juvenile court. The transfer was refused in this case but this decision is currently being appealed. If is successful they'll spend no more than three years in custody. Both girls have pleaded 'not guilty'.
Morgan has since been diagnosed as schizophrenic so it's likely her defence will focus on this. They are due back in court in July.
Slenderman documentary and film
Beware the Slenderman, a documentary about the murder which includes footage of the families involved in thecase, premiered in March at SXSW Festival and is due to air on HBO later this year although the date hasn't been confirmed. The story of Slenderman is also being made into a film according to the Hollywood Reporter, with production set to start late this year and a release planned for 2017.
Slenderman and Creepypasta
Creepypasta are horror stories that are copied and pasted across the web – it comes from the slang word ‘copypasta’ which refers to a block of text that gets copied and pasted over and over again. It’s also where Anissa said she first came across Slenderman.
The internet is full of people claiming to have seen Slenderman, whether it's in the back of photographs or 'footage' they've captured on film. Last year in Staffordshire there were four apparent sightings of Slenderman, with three said to take place inside the persons house. One woman even claims she caught Slenderman on camera.
Slenderman and other myths/legends
We know that Slenderman was created on the internet but characters from old myths and legends have been found that some people believe shows he must exist. There's Der Grossman, a German legend said to have come from 16th century wood carvings who looks similar to Slenderman and is said to abduct naughty children. Brazillian cave paintings have been found which depict figures that look similar and faceless characters exist in Japanese and Chinese culture.
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