The mysterious Slender Man is a supernatural being obscured in mystery and associated with savagery, sacrifice, and the occult. But thankfully, despite some pretty compelling photographs and first-hand accounts, the Slender Man is not real.
Nevertheless, the compelling legend of this eerie, pallid figure seemed real enough for two young girls to brutally attack their friend in his name, in an effort to appease this unnatural monster….
The Slender Man first appeared in 2009 on a forum of the website SomethingAwful.com. The original thread was a photoshop contest in which users were asked to edit everyday photographs to make them appear paranormal. Eric Knudsen responded by implanting the image of a tall, skinny, faceless man into some pictures of children playing. The results were eerie and fascinating.
The First Sighting
Knudsen also accompanied the terrifying photographs with cryptic quotes like the one below:
“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.”
The second photograph was even creepier…
The Second Sighting
This picture was said to be recovered from a fire at the Stirling City Library. The photo was believed to be taken on the day that 14 children vanished. The Slender Man, a gaunt, tall figure with Skeletal limbs is seen in the background of the children.
“Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.”
— 1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.
Two, Young Followers
Rumors soon began to swirl around the internet. The legend behind the eerily realistic photographs grew and picked up new features. Some believed the Slender Man to be connected with demonic cults and the sacrifice of innocents. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weir were regular 12-year-olds, living in Waukesha, Wisconsin: or at least, that’s what their parents thought. Secretly, the two girls had been obsessing over the fictional Slender Man for months….
The three friends lived in the Sunset Apartments on Big Bend Road and rode the school bus together. Anissa was new, and therefore an outsider, but she had found true friends in the outgoing Bella and the outlandish Morgan. Most of their classmates would consider them to be misfits, as they weren’t interested in the same things as their peers, not boys, or celebrities, but something far more obscure.
On the night of May 31, 2014, the girls were having a sleepover with their friend Bella at Morgan’s house. As they sat together, enjoying each other’s company, Morgan and Anissa started telling Bella about the strange legends they had discovered on the Creepypasta Wiki, a website that collects horror stories from all over the internet. It was then they told her about the Slender Man and how they had recently become his followers…
Morgan and Anissa told Bella that the Slender Man was real, and they all had to prove themselves to him, by demonstrating their loyalty and prevent him from harming their families. They explained that if they did what Slender Man wanted and killed for him, they could live with him in his mansion, which they believed was in the Nicolet National Forest. What they didn’t explain to Bella, was that she was going to be their sacrifice.
Despite their initial plan to stab Bella in the neck with a kitchen knife while she slept, the two decided that they wanted to give her one more day to live. On Saturday, Morgan and Anissa lured Bella into the woods. Once they had her on her own, the two girls stabbed her 19 times, thinking that more carnage would impress the Slender Man even further. They then headed out of the forest, leaving the severely wounded Bella to bleed to death on the forest floor…
Yet by some miracle, of the 19 total stab wounds, only two had damaged Bella’s major organs. One injury in particular missed a major artery by less than a millimeter. Bella was stabbed in what is referred to as the “cardiac box”, the area that includes the lungs and the aorta. But despite this, despite the fact that there is almost a 50% mortality rate for those types of wounds, Bella survived the attack and was able to crawl out of the woods.
Thankfully, Bella was strong enough to drag herself out of the forest and to a ditch on the side of the road, where she was found by a nearby cyclist. She was weak, and reportedly only minutes from the brink of death when she was taken to a local hospital. Before she went into what would amount to six hours of surgery, she told police who had tried to kill her: her best friends….
Local police conducted a mass search for Morgan and Anissa. Law enforcement officials from Waukesha County, New Berlin, and Brookfield. Flight for Life helicopters were also brought in and the two perpetrators were finally found around 2:30 PM that day, walking placidly next to Interstate 94. They were carrying the knife they had used to stab Bella.
According to arresting officers, the girls did feel guilty for having stabbed their best friend but knew that deep down they needed to do it to appease the Slender Man. “Many people do not believe Slender Man is real,” said one of the girls….” They also said that if they didn’t kill Bella, the Slender Man would kill their families. The police knew then and there that something was very wrong with the girls…
Soon after, local police questionsed the two girls. In tandem, separate interrogations, each girl claimed that the other had come up with the plan to murder Bella. One of them went on to again reiterate that they had to kill Bella or Slender Man would come to kill her family. Later, when the case eventually went to trial, the girls’ attorney would contest the charge of first-degree homicide, sighting that the girls sincerely believed they had no choice.
In August 2014, one of the girls was ruled incompetent to stand trial. She had been diagnosed by psychiatrists with Childhood Onset Schizophrenia and was remanded to a mental health institute in Winnebago, WI. Nevertheless, by December of that year, and after further investigation, both of the girls were ruled competent on the basis that one of them refused to take her schizophrenia medication. Morgan and Anissa were now charged with first-degree intentional homicide….
Try as You Might
Morgan and Anissa were to be tried as adults based on a Wisconsin law that stated that all murder charges for children older than 10 started in adult court. If they were convicted, they could be sent to prison for up to 45 years. But their lawyers kept it up, arguing that as disturbed 12-year-olds, the girls should be tried in juvenile court. As they waited for the response, both lawyers were working on a defense that included “Not guilty by reason of Mental Disease or Defect.”
Both attorneys argued that the girls were not guilty because both of them suffered from schizophrenia and delusional disorders. This, of course, rendered the adult court completely unnecessary. Despite their obsession with the Slender Man and the myriad pictures and sketches they kept about the character, the court ruled that the stabbing was too violent and premeditated to have been done “accidentally”. And so the trial continued…
In October of 2016, the girls were tested once more for schizophrenia and any other mental dysfunctions that might allow them to forgo a trial and be moved into a mental health facility full-time. Their attorneys also filed to have the girls be tried separately, in order to maintain impartiality, because both of the girls’ initial statements implicated the other.
Since their arrest, Morgan and Anissa’s lawyers have issued many appeals on behalf of the accused. The result of which had pushed the date for trial as far back as March 2017. They also filed a brief arguing that the heavy media coverage would lead to a fair amount of partiality on behalf of any judge or jury located in Waukesha County, and that this would impose significant hardships for the child defendants.
Building the Legend
Whatever happens in the trials of Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weir, the Slender Man legend has been made more real than its creators ever anticipated. The legend itself had spread like wildfire initially, with more and more images and references to Slender Man popping up on forums like 4chan and other such websites. The attempted murder and arrest would go on to inspire a popular horror web series, several indie video games, and even an HBO series.
In a unique twist, the legend of the Slender Man represents a new form of folklore for the twenty-first century: the concept of digital folklore. In a way, the Slender Man legend spread and evolved in a way that echoes the legendary monsters of the past. People told the story, told of their encounters, and made up proof. But whether or not the Slender Man legend is real or not, it was real enough to drive two delusional girls to commit a terrible crime.