It first came to our attention when two 12-year-old girls allegedly stabbed their ‘friend’ 19 times in the US state of Wisconsin.
Luckily their victim was able to crawl to a nearby road where she was found by a passing cyclist and the girls were later charged – as adults – with attempted first degree murder.
Then, days later, while the public was still struggling to fathom how this attack could have happened, a 13-year-old girl in Ohio allegedly stabbed her mother while wearing a white mask.
The mother sustained only minor injuries, and afterwards described how her daughter “was someone else during the attack”.
Both incidents are horrifying. And both times, the young perpetrators were reported to be in a daze. And eerily, both times the mythical horror creature Slender Man was linked to the attack.
And the reference has left a lot of adults wondering who this character is and how it could possibly compel young people to attempt to kill those close to them.
If you don’t know what a Slender Man is, you’re not in the minority.
And that’s why we decided to put together this explainer about the character –and the frightening, cult-like following that’s developed around him.
So who is/what is Slender Man?
Put simply, Slender Man is a fictional character created by 33-year-old father Erik Knudsen. Knudsen created the character in 2009 by photoshopping two black and white photos depicting a tall, faceless man in a suit, standing behind a group of children, and posting them to the comedy forum SomethingAwful.
The myth went viral from there, with pictures, stories and videos expanding on the legend that Knudsen created. Fan-fiction tales about Slender Man are now posted to paranormal and horror story website Creepypasta, and an online, first-person horror game — in which users virtually move around a dark forest as the Slender Man’s panting breath gets closer and closer — has also become popular in recent years.
The creepy captions accompanying Knudsen’s original images helped the legend really come to life: The first caption, which reads “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”, appears to have echoes in the story told by the two 12-year-old girls who allegedly committed the first attack. They allegedly said they tried to kill their friend to prove themselves to Slender Man.
According to descriptions on the Creepypasta website: