The Slender Man Stabbing

Slender Man

An image purporting to show the so-called “Slender Man,” in the center background. Via Something Awful.

This past weekend, two 12-year-old girls, allegedly, attempted to murder their 12-year-old friend by stabbing her 19 times. This horrifying act was not only cold-bloodedly premeditated (again, allegedly), but also was, apparently, being done to appease the fictional character of the Slender Man.

As reported by CNN (as well as many others):

They thought they had something to prove to someone they found on a ghoulish website, police say. So, two girls allegedly lured a third girl into a wooded area in Waukesha, Wisconsin, over the weekend and stabbed her 19 times, according to authorities.


The girls were trying to impress a certain “Slenderman,” the complaint read. One of the girls encountered the name on a website known as Creepypasta Wiki.

This horrifying act drives home one of the reasons why I became active in skepticism. Even though most of what I do is silly and light-hearted, belief in the absurd, the unproven, even the frankly and obviously fictional does do harm. Works of fiction, in this Internet age, can, strangely, turn into urban legend. From there, it can move into the realms of belief. I’ve written about this before; Alexandria’s Genesis and The Russian Sleep Experiment.

While urban legends would certainly spread prior to the Internet, the modern Internet, paradoxically, seems to reinforce the reality of these fictional accounts, rather than reduce it. Despite being able to easily find evidence showing that, for instance, Slender Man is a fictional creation of Victor Surge back in 2009, the idea of the Slender Man has continued to grow.

An article at discusses this as well:

The Slenderman myth is not new. It was created during 2009 on the SomethingAwful web forum in an experiment in the creation of folklore-like images through photo manipulation.


The criminal complaint filed over the Milwaukee attack quotes one of the girls as saying: “Many people do not believe Slender Man is real. [We] wanted to prove the sceptics wrong.”

The article goes on to examine whether or not Creepypasta should hold some responsibility for the attack:

The Creepypasta website presents itself as a repository for budding horror-genre authors to share and discuss their work.

But there is little provision for parental guidance or age-restriction of content here, or anywhere.

In their defense, Creepypasta says:

But if I may be so bold, I don’t believe that it’s the fault of Slenderman or horror writing in general that this happened. I remember reading scary stories and watching slasher movies when I was a child and young teenager and while they certainly gave me nightmares, they did not instill within me a desire to murder my friends.

In my opinion, Creepypasta hold no more blame in this than any other media property which inspired a brutal act of violence. The decision to commit a violent act is, to my thinking, not a sign of a healthy mind. I would expect that another focus would have been selected besides Slender Man, were circumstances different.

I don’t intend to do a take down of Slender Man. There’s enough out there for you with a simple search. I honestly didn’t think that it needed one. I had, perhaps naïvely, assumed that the fictional nature of Slender Man was well-known and accepted.

The bright spot for me in this story is that it appears that the girl who suffered this horrific attack will survive, though she has a long road ahead of her to recover, mentally and physically. She will be in my thoughts and I wish her a complete recovery, in every respect.

In the mean time, I think I’ll go find some more silly stories to write about. Maybe it’ll make a small difference.

Be well.

About Mike Weaver

Husband, father, skeptic, technologist, motorcyclist, hunter, outdoors-man, and evil genius. I am formally trained in computer science, physics, mathematics, and emergency medicine (paramedic, former).
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19 Responses to The Slender Man Stabbing

  1. Daniel says:

    This reminds me slightly of the black eyed children myth.

    I wish you would cover more current event stuff in you podcasts. But hopefully it’s not stuff like this, since nobody needs proof slender man isn’t real. I would also like to hear to I take on religion (e.g., did Jesus exist).

    • Mike Weaver says:

      Perhaps you’ve confused me with Mr. Dunning?

    • John Denys says:

      You should check out The Teaching Company if you want a course on Jesus. There’s an excellent one called The Historical Jesus. As the title suggests, the lecturer looks at what historians can know about Jesus. I really enjoyed it.

      P.S. I don’t work for them.

  2. Larry says:

    Mike: You spoke of the girl that was attacked having a long and hard road ahead of her but what of the other two that obviously at least mentally have even perhaps greater issues. And even though we were somewhat exposed to the slasher movies of the day such as psycho and the ghoulish Night of the Living Dead, we did not have a consistent access to this media as the internet provides to the youth. And further it can be argued that the amount and nature of the graphic violence today is a lot greater than it was in the old days so I am not sure that the defence provided by creepy is a good one. That is like saying I survived a plane crash so why can’t you? The more important point is parenting here and making sure young men and women are shielded from the violence as much as practical and if they do see it, it is under parental supervision. I think glorification of violence in the media and internet has to be curbed and culturally we need a shift away from the message that attacking others “makes you a winner”. If we glorify the “hunger games” then we must be prepared to live in that world.

    • Mike Weaver says:

      While the perpetrators may have long, difficult roads ahead of them, I have little sympathy for them. I’m not in a rush to place blame for this anywhere but on those who did the act.

  3. Walter Clark says:

    Nice essay Larry. I look forward to more from you.
    I have a fascination for the subject of contrition; how important is it it in society, that sort of thing. Do you have any way of finding out Mike, how the two perpetrators felt about their act after being caught and then after a great deal of time, and what was the thinking process for that transition. That is far more important than the yellow journalism appeal we all experience in your report.


    • Mike Weaver says:

      I don’t have any easy way to know what the perpetrators feel or know, aside from what is reported in the news. Again, I’m not that interested in it. Does it make the act any less bad if the perpetrators are really sorry for it? Maybe regret shows that they can, perhaps, be rehabilitated. I don’t know, it’s not my area of interest or specialty.

      I am curious as to why you characterize what I wrote as yellow journalism. Could you please elaborate?

  4. injinu says:

    My suspicion is that at least one of the girls just wanted to know what it would be like to commit an act like this. If she hadn’t been able to blame it on the “slender man” she would have found another rationale

  5. Reg says:

    I’m not to sure about putting the blame on a 12 year old. Some kids have a very basic understanding of words and instructions blithely issued by adults and would-be adults. My father used to refer to electricity as “juice.” So one day when the radio decided it would not function I decided all it needed was some juice, not having any juice it occurred to me that water was the next best thing and poured a half glass down the back of the radio. It still didn’t work but it was worth the try. I don’t do that any more.

  6. Working in a Cop Shop says:

    Hideous little monsters will find or make up reasons for their heinous activities. There isn’t a causal relationship here. It is always terrifying when children kill, but blaming literature of any sort viciousness is just a cop out. Should I tell you about the 10 year old girl in cute pigtails who tried to set fire to the family house because she was tired of them all? Perhaps the tale of the 9 year old cherub faced boy who body-slammed a four year old girl with cancer onto a glass coffee table just for fun.

    Reality check for those who haven’t been paying attention: evil exists and it comes in all sizes and ages independent of upbringing or social status. Be happy there isn’t more of it around.

    • Reg says:

      Well of course it’s horrifying but where do young kids get the idea about “body slamming” or “incinerating those they don’t like,” or “sticking sharp objects into things” If it’s not from demonstration, then where?. They’re not born knowing this stuff for sure.

      My partner is a nurse who revels in watching all the police dramas on television, the bloodier and more violent the better, but she will NOT look at Science of Stupid with Richard Hammond. Far too real for her to watch idiot adults smashing themselves to pieces because of their ignorance of the scientific facts. They do the same thing over and over again and fail every time and they are not 8 or 12, they are “mature” teenagers or adults. I suppose we should admire the ones who recognize the efficiency of guns and graduate to them early in pursuit of their violent ends?

      • Anthony says:

        “but where do young kids get the idea about “body slamming” or “incinerating those they don’t like,” or “sticking sharp objects into things” If it’s not from demonstration, then where?.”

        Wrestling shows will give any boy the idea to body slam but so will experience with wrestling other little boys. My brothers and I fought almost every day and adding a new move is not hard. I never saw a demonstration of throwing a block at someone else but I did so with good accuracy wen I was four (according to my mother).

        I also learned to set things on fire by watching my parents light candles and the fire and the trash barrel. Not much of a leap to setting a house on fire and any sort of explanation will suffice for a child.

        Sticking sharp objects into other objects is pretty natural once a child figures out sharp objects like pencils. I never stabbed anyone but I can see many a child using a pencil or knife out of anger.

        Children are very creative and resourceful and don’t need television or videogames to give them ideas.

  7. Working in a Cop Shop says:

    Just so we are clear: what children see or read or are told are not the factors that cause the violence. Entertainment media may indeed result in inappropriate behavior modelling that causes harm to another.

    HOWEVER: while what children see, read, and hear may shape the violent act they choose, the impulse in inflict deliberate harm originates with the agressor.

  8. Reg says:

    “the impulse to inflict deliberate harm originates with the aggressor.”

    An interesting concept. So at age twelve when my father suffered a paralyzing stroke and my King’s Scout, Rhodes Scholar mentor decided to take sexual advantage of me, and my unknowing distraught mother insisted his influence must be positive, who was the aggressor and have I been taught to be sexually aggressive? Naturally I silently carry whatever damage has resulted for 25 years or more, but how fortunate to have the wit and wisdom not to continue the chain of aggression, or did I? Yes, let’s be clear about this.

    How can it been seen as aggression if it’s made to appear an everyday activity?

  9. Cindy Magana says:

    If you zoom in closer to that strange object youl see slender man!!! Opening his arms!!!!! FREEKY!!!(*0*)

  10. Lycanna says:

    Hey guys, I’m just say my opinion on this story. When I first seen this on the news, I was shocked! I actually was just coming home from school and decided to turn the TV on and there it was. All I saw was the news showing a picture of Slenderman on the screen and it changed to something else. After that i looked it up and came to the story. When I heard these two girls were trying to kill their friend for him, I literally facepalmed. I am a fan of both creepypastas and slenderman. When I first got into it, I was at least 11 or 12 and even I knew that they were not true. I mean I do sometimes think slenders real but I wouldn’t kill for him. I am not scared and wasn’t ever scared of creepypastas. Even when I first started reading, I knew better than to try to kill someone over them. They let their own fear of him consume them and that’s not good. Also fearing the unknown doesn’t give someone the right to try to take someone’s life. I wouldn’t blame the people who created creepypasta for this. There are bound to have people to believe in the characters, but the viewers shouldn’t take it too far. I am still in school (high school, sophomore year) now and even my friends wouldn’t take creepypasta stories too far. This story also represents that you shouldn’t believe everything on the internet and don’t let fear consume you. Thinking something scary is real doesn’t mean you have to take someone’s life because you think its after you. Creepypastas are meant for entertainment and can also teach lessons. For the victims family, I am very sorry for this to happen to you and you didn’t deserve this. I’m glad your daughter survived and I am just speaking my own opinion on this. And I respect anyone’s opinion on this story.

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