Tag Archives: Slender Man

In Service of the Slender Man: When Teen Girls Become Murderous

Photo by Julio César Cerletti García (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

To find belonging, teen girls sometimes form obsessive friendships to fend off the isolation that puberty brings at the twilight of their childhood. In this exceptionally well-researched piece at VQR, Alex Mar recalls two real-life events in which teen-girl duos became murderous and why these obsessive friendships devolved into a pact to do evil.

What is occult is synonymous with what is hidden, orphic, veiled—but girls are familiar with that realm. We have the instinct. Girls create their own occult language; it may be one of the first signs of adolescence. This is a language of fantasy, of the desire for things we can’t yet have (we’re too young), of forces we can’t control (loneliness, an unrequited crush, the actions of our family). This invention of a private language, both visual and verbal, shared with only a chosen few, gives shape to our first allegiances; it grants entry into a universe with its own rationale—the warped rationale of fairy tales. Its rules do not bleed over into the realm of the mundane, of parents and teachers and adult consequences.

But in May 2014, the occult universe of two young girls did spill over into the real. And within days of her twelfth birthday, all of Morgan Geyser’s drawings and scribblings—evidence of the world she had built with her new best friend—were confiscated. More than three years later, they are counted among the state’s exhibits in a case of first-degree intentional homicide.

After some time on the swings, Anissa suggests they play hide-and-seek in the suburban woods at the park’s edge. There, just a few feet beyond the tree line, Morgan, on Anissa’s cue, stabs Bella in the chest.

Then she stabs her again, and again, and again—in her arms, in her leg, near her heart. By the time Morgan stops, she has stabbed her nineteen times.

Though they were both a very young, Midwestern twelve, they had been chosen for a dark and unique destiny which none of their junior-high classmates could possibly understand, drawn into the forest in the service of a force much greater and more mysterious than anything in their suburban-American lives. What drew them out there has a name: Slender Man, faceless and pale and impossibly tall. His symbol is the letter X.

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Why Would Two Girls Attempt Murder for Slender Man?

Photo: MDL70

In 2014, two 12-year-old girls stabbed a friend, arguing that they did it for a fictional internet horror creature named Slender Man. Lisa Miller tries to understand why in New York magazine:

By the age of 8 — and definitely by 12 — psychologists agree, most children are as able as adults to sort out what’s real from what is not. What sets children and adolescents apart from adults is a mental task psychologists call “discounting” — the rational inner voices that can subdue overheated emotional responses to the imagination’s powerful projections and that come with the maturing of the frontal lobe by around age 25. That’s why a 50-year-old can finish rinsing her hair even as she recalls the shower scene from “Psycho,” while a 16-year-old will find herself with a racing heart, soapy and dripping on the mat. But the feeling of being in the thrall of a fantasy (even a morbid one) can be seductive as well, as comforting as getting high, as mesmerizing as Minecraft.

In this way, the friendship of Anissa and Morgan, with its shared obsessions and mutually satisfying imaginary play, was the rather unremarkable effort of two bright, alienated kids to build a world more thrilling than their reality, a private bubble that offered them belonging, excitement, and a sense of their own power. The problem wasn’t that Morgan and Anissa didn’t know they were living in a fantasy world: Ultimately, when pressed by adults, they acknowledged the difference between fantasy and reality. The problem was that they couldn’t — or didn’t — extricate themselves from the ­fantasy. “He does not exist,” Anissa told police on the day of the stabbing. “He is a work of fiction.” Morgan, the more troubled one, had a more enduring attachment to the fairy tale they had told themselves and that had brought them to the woods. But even she admitted, in her interview, that the attack on Bella was “probably wrong,” she said. “I honestly don’t know why we did this.”

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