Slender Man can now be found all over the internet. He lurks in the shadows and the dark corners watching. Watching the children play. He is tall and slender as his name implies with long arms and a black suit. His face is featureless and therefore all the more unsettling to the observer. There is a suggestion of long black tentacles coming from his back. What does he do with those?
Slender Man first appeared on the internet on June 10, 2009, when his image was submitted to a photoshop contest on SomethingAwful.com by a man named Eric Knudsen under the pseudonym Victor Surge. Mr. Knudsen did not just submit a spooky photoshopped image, he included a story to go along with his photograph. That is what caught the attention of so many. The photo is below.
The story was that the all of the children captured in the photograph went missing later that day.
“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.” (The Truth About Slenderman, snopes.com)
1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986. (this was the made-up name of the photographer to add mystery to the image)
“The effect was understated, yet creepy. Inspired by the example, others contributed photos and backstory expanding on Surge’s themes, and piecemeal construction of the Slenderman mythos, a collaborative project from the start, was underway. As Surge himself suggested, it was also, from the start, a patchwork of cultural influences:
Where Did Slenderman come from?
Where did you get the source for Slender Man? Or was he done from a scratch?
The Slender Man as an idea was made-up off the top of my head, although the concept is based on a number of things that scare me. The name I thought up on the fly when I wrote that first bit. The asset I used for a couple of the pictures was the creepy tall guy from Phantasm, which sadly I have not seen, and the others various guys in suits. All of the things that aren’t the torso and legs, like the tentacles and Slender Man’s face, were painted from scratch, however.” (The Truth About Slenderman, snopes.com)
Well done Mr. Knudsen. The image and the story that accompanied it are incredibly creepy and the urban legend was born.
The Sad Event That Slenderman “Inspired”
The story of Slender Man includes the terrifying idea that he can control his “proxies” actions by communicating with them telepathically. That he can tell a person to harm or kill another for his own pleasure. This part of the urban legend was taken way too literally and too far on May 31, 2014, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
On that fateful day, three 12-year-old girls entered the woods to do some bird watching or to play hide and seek according to some reports. One of the girls was stabbed 19 times and left for dead. Miraculously, she managed to crawl out of the woods and find help. The stabbing victim survived her wounds and the other two girls were arrested and charged as adults with attempted homicide.
“According to the criminal complaint obtained by Newsweek, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, both 12, discovered Slender Man on Creepypasta Wiki, a website dedicated to Internet horror stories (its tagline: “Proudly hosting 12,151 of your worst nightmares since 2010”). They believed he was real. In early 2014, Geyser and Weier decided to become what they called “proxies” of Slender Man, thereby proving their dedication to him and his existence to skeptics. To do so, they’d have to kill someone.” (The Truth About Slender Man, snopes.com)
The two young girls that attempted to murder their friend in 2014 finally had their separate days in court in the Fall of 2017. Morgan Geyser was committed to a Wisconsin-based mental hospital after she pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree homicide. Judge Michael Bohren found her not responsible for her actions due to mental disease or defect. (‘Slender Man’ Trial: What’s Next for Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, October 11, 2017, rollingstone.com)
As of December 7, 2017, Morgan Geyser has yet to learn the length of her sentence in the mental hospital. Prosecutors have asked for her to be locked up for 40 years.
In August 2017, Anissa Weier pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree homicide. A jury concluded that Anissa was not responsible for her actions because she was mentally ill and they sentenced her to three years in a state mental hospital. (rollingstone.com)
Their victim, Payton “Bella” Leutner is a survivor and I hope that now that her attackers have had their day in court that she will have a wonderful, peaceful life where the terrible event of May 31, 2014, can be a distant memory.
The Other Half