Slenderman is a character born on the Internet, a “creepypasta” (a neologism derived from the computer command “copy-paste”). We could say that he is the personification of some of our most atavistic fears, such as the fear of being watched by someone or something we cannot see, one of the pillars of our survival instinct. We can therefore conclude that this dismal, slim, faceless being stuffed in his characteristic black suit is another result of the macabre human imagination. The problem is that its influence has already been felt in the real world…
In early June 2014, cyclist Greg Steinberg found a 12-year-old girl, Payton Leutner, crawling in the middle of a trail near a Wisconsin park, dying and bleeding and in urgent need of medical intervention. She had been stabbed 19 times, and if she survived, it was a miracle, because one of the stabs almost drilled a major heart artery. To this day she has recovered from her physical wounds, but not from the psychological ones, as she cannot sleep unless she has a pair of scissors under her pillow.
The authors of this savagery were two alleged “friends” of Payton, also 12 years old: Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier. They did not make clear their motivations, but the truth is that Slenderman was the epicenter of everything, also of their obsessions. Either they wanted to go off to Slenderman’s domain and become his subjects, for which it was necessary to impress him in a kind of baptism by fire with a sacrifice, or to exchange blood for blood: to kill their friend to prevent the sinister entity from consuming the lives of their families. Treated as adults at the trial, both have been sentenced to be held in psychiatric facilities for several years.
Also in 2014, in early September, 14-year-old Lily Marie Hartwell tried to burn down her house with her mother and 9-year-old brother inside. Hartwell was also obsessed with “creepypastas” and, more specifically, with Slenderman, who allegedly inspired the attempted murder.