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Crime draws new attention on 'Slenderman'

Who Is Slender Man?

By TAYLOR W. ANDERSON

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls who have been charged with stabbing and nearly killing a friend told investigators that they planned the slaying to curry favor with a fictional character they read about on a horror website.

Here's a look at the character called Slenderman and the website police say the girls had been reading for months:

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WHO IS SLENDERMAN?

Slenderman is a paranormal being who lurks near forests and who absorbs, kills or carries off victims. In some accounts, he targets children. He looks like a long-limbed, lean man in a black suit but has no face. In some accounts, he has tentacles protruding from his back.

Eric Knudsen of Florida created the character in response to a call for submissions from the online forum SomethingAwful, said Shira Chess, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia who has researched Slenderman's origins. Knudsen posted the first photos along with a fictional news story under the username Victor Surge on June 10, 2009. He did not respond Tuesday to an email seeking comment.

Other writers, artists and programmers later created additional stories, movies and video games featuring Slenderman. Websites show what appear to be photographs of the character, lending it the air of authenticity.

"It feels real," Chess said. "A 12-year-old potentially isn't going to know the whole origin of the story."

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WHAT IS CREEPY PASTA?

The girls told Wisconsin police that they read about Slenderman on the website creepypasta.wikia.com.

The site defines a creepypasta as "a short story posted on the Internet that is designed to unnerve and shock the reader."

Online communities have developed to distribute creepypastas and create new ones, said Chris Edmond, a writer who posts under the username MrCreepyPasta. The stories can attract large audiences; Edmond has 385,000 Facebook followers and 500,000 YouTube subscribers.

Edmond said sites dedicated to creepypastas are in no way meant to incite violence. Instead, he said, the goal is to be creative and foster the horror genre.

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WHO RUNS THIS WEBSITE?

Creepypasta.wikia.com is part of a larger site, wikia.com, which includes 2,700 wikis devoted to fan fiction. A wiki allows groups of users to add, delete, edit and share information.

An administrator posted on creepypasta.wikia.com Tuesday to say that all stories on the site are fiction and not meant to advocate or endorse killing or other violence. The post described the stabbing in Wisconsin as "an isolated incident, and does not represent or attribute the Creepypasta community as a whole."

"There is a line of between fiction and reality, and it is up to you to realize where the line is," the administrator wrote. "We are a literature site, not a crazy satanic cult."

Attempts to reach site operators by phone and email were unsuccessful.

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SHOULD CHILDREN BE READING THIS?

Creepypasta sites aren't aimed at children, but they attract thousands of readers younger than 18. Edmond said about one-third of his audience on Facebook and YouTube is between the ages of 13 and 17.

Joanne Cantor, a retired University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who studied the effect of media on children, said stories such as Slenderman can have a greater effect because children can interact with the tale by viewing pictures, watching videos or posting their own versions of stories or comments.

"It could very well be that they were confused about reality" in the stabbing case, Cantor said.

She recommended parents talk to their children about how to determine whether things they see on the Internet are real.

"It should say to parents, don't underestimate what's going on in your kids' media use," Cantor said.

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Associated Press writer M.L. Johnson in Milwaukee and News Researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.


HuffPost Live reached out to Knudsen to ask what he thought of the story, but he wasn't immediately available to comment.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
wyrdotter June 04 2014 at 7:01 AM

Am I the only one wondering where the parents of the perpetrators were and why they didn't put down their smart phones long enough to teach their kids the difference between reality and fiction?? I watched all kinds of scary or violent movies at their age, read plenty of horror novels, but my parents paid attention to what I was watching and reading and made sure I knew the line between "story" and "real." As a result I've managed to make it to middle age without repeatedly stabbing anybody.

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6 replies
Joanna June 04 2014 at 2:16 AM

... and the atheists resent anything related to GOD.... yet humans keep filling the current void with anything... Slenderman, drugs, alcohol excessive spending, violence, terror.. whatever the vacuum allowed.

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11 replies
pizzalover1974 June 04 2014 at 3:05 AM

Pretty horrible, but people been killing people over made up stuff for thousands of years.

Religion has caused more deaths and thats just the ranting of madmen, who got heat stroke in the desert and saw god.

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5 replies
TripleXKimberly June 04 2014 at 6:32 AM

They were already very disturbed to begin with. Slenderman just added fuel to that fire. I hope the victim recovers and will someday be able to enjoy her childhood again.

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3 replies
jdjackson1991 June 04 2014 at 7:45 AM

Where were the parents? Oh right no parents take responsibility for their damn kids anymore and everyone is suffering because of it.

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3 replies
BOB June 04 2014 at 5:23 AM

It is amazing as to what the dumbing down of education has done to America . The made up thetans of scientology and now this slenderman crap . I guess the world is filled with idiots that believe anything you tell them .

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3 replies
hanlon1212 June 04 2014 at 12:12 AM

It's Paul Ryan -- from his old days driving the Oscar Meyer car .
He used to approach children and offer them " vouchers " for GOD knows what.

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3 replies
LMetz11822 June 04 2014 at 11:10 AM

Kids for the most part, even at 12 years old, still have some type of magical thinking and if they have some type of mental illness then it is easier for them to believe in something like the supernatural.

As for Joanna's comment, she implies that this incident might have happened because atheists resent anything related to God. Well Joanna, I don't know whether these girls were atheist, Christian or whatever; but logic dictates that if they were atheist then I doubt they would have any belief in any type of supernatural being. In fact, if anyone is going to fall prey into believing in something like "Slenderman" then it will be someone who already has beliefs in supernatural beings. Get my point!!

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1 reply
orion15stars LMetz11822 June 04 2014 at 1:51 PM

Why is that? I was reading Poe at a very young age, and I was well aware it was fiction. Same with Aesop's Fables. They both had strong oetic justice ramifications for the villains in those fictional classical works of literature. Those are called moral to the story, which are supposed to encourage young people to avoid the wrong path of life and seek the right path instead. Those secular morals aren't taught any longer as they used to be.

Children aren't properly taught how to read winch involves acquiring reading comprehension skills, which requires development of both sound logic skills and a conscience by age 7.

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1 reply
LMetz11822 orion15stars June 04 2014 at 3:50 PM

I watched cartoons to at a young age and I also knew that cartoons were not real, but I still believed in Santa Claus. Just because as a child you know some things are not real does not mean that they still don't have magical thinking. Even many adults have magical thinking.

As to your claim of teaching some type of secular values and/or morals to very young children; I certainly would not want to teach children that there is some vengeful God out there ready to bring the walls of the city down because the people in it did not believe in him. For people like Jim Jones, Jim Bakker, Oral Roberts, and the list goes on obliviously had secular teachings instilled in them and you can see where that got them.

Instilling values and morals should be something that parents teach their children and it is something learned in stages of their development.

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eacret2 June 03 2014 at 11:55 PM

Need send Sam and dean Winchester they will take care of it lol!

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1 reply
astin827 eacret2 June 04 2014 at 7:26 AM

You find something funny about attempted murder ? Sick !

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kmcc895370 June 04 2014 at 6:50 AM

Actually the 'author' of Slenderman just tapped into a much older archtype of a mysterious creature that takes children. Most cultures has one, for example something as simple as the tale of the Pied Piper in Germany tells of a mysterious stranger who seduces all the children of a village to follow him. They all disappear without a trace,except for a cripple child who can't keep up. The scary aspect of that story is it may be true. Visit Hamelin Germany and view the monument to the lost children. So, never be so sure about a creature being merely mythological, because it can be an expression of something already there in some form.

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2 replies
savannahswithgod kmcc895370 June 04 2014 at 9:48 AM

It would be a person, not a creature unless as a bear or something! I would venture the Lord did not create any demons, a Human Being can play that part very well. But then the creator 'has his secrets to keep' from a dream around 2006/7! A 3 sequence set of dreams there.

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1 reply
boardsrbetter savannahswithgod June 04 2014 at 11:20 AM

are you high?

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orion15stars kmcc895370 June 04 2014 at 2:04 PM

That type of ultra-liberalism free speech expression used to be federally banned because it played to the adults of no conscience. Now it plays to the children of no conscience as well. Federally banned meant every state and US territory had to comply with federal law per the US Constitution.

As a result, pre-1981 we never had all the children of no conscience as the numbers exponentially rose since the drug sub-culture, which became the mainstream by 2000, of the 1960s. Taking drugs alters the DNA for fetal brain expression, which means that any potential to develop logic or a conscience is negatively altered as well.

The ironic outcome is that those calling themselves "politically conservative" were instrumental in forcing a 5 justice majority "conservative" US Supreme Court into mandating ultra-liberalism in speech and non-verbal expression, plus, legal firearms flow with littler to no control.

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1 reply
sasa7141633 orion15stars June 12 2014 at 1:18 AM

I'm sorry, but what does that have to do with anything?

Where is the proof for your ramblings?

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