If you've been following the horrifying attempted murder by two 12 year-olds of their classmate in Waukesha, Wisconsin, you probably heard references to "Slender Man," the being the alleged attackers claim they wanted to honor with the killing:
The bizarre nature of the attack has stunned the community of 70,000. Even more unsettling, police say, is how the girls concocted their plan: They allegedly wanted to please an Internet meme known as the Slender Man.
The character is featured on the website Creepypasta Wiki, which compiles tales of fictional horror. But the girls allegedly believed Slender Man was real.
One of them allegedly told police that they wanted to become “proxies” of the faceless character, and would have to prove their dedication with killing, reported NBC affiliate WGBA in Green Bay. They planned to take their victim’s body to a part of Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin's north woods, where Slender Man supposedly lives.
If you're scratching your head about what on earth Slender Man is, and why your kids seemingly have encyclopedic knowledge about the character, On the Media podcast side-project TLDR ran a fascinating piece about the figure back in January that's absolutely worth a listen, if only to have a sense of how the internet creates its own mythology these days.
ERIC KNUDSEN: Hi, my name is Eric Knudson, also known as Victor Surge on the internet, and I’m the creator of Slender Man.
ALEX GOLDMAN: Like pretty much every story you hear about someone who is deeply into the macabre, he’s about the sweetest person you’ll ever meet.
ERIC KNUDSEN: I’m a 33 year old male, married, I have a 20 month old toddler. I’m actually looking to become a schoolteacher.
ALEX GOLDMAN: In June of 2009, Eric posted the first images of Slender man in a thread called “create paranormal images” on the website Something Awful.
ALEX GOLDMAN: When you created this character you just figured it was gonna be like a laugh between you and Something Awful, something that didn’t get beyond that particular thread?
ERIC KNUDSEN: Absolutely, I mean, some people had joked in the thread that wouldn’t it be funny if some of these ended up on paranormal websites or someone said oh these pictures look real, they must be real, they’re ghosts or creatures or whatever. But i don't think anybody expected it to happen.