On Thursday, February 1st, 15-year-old Morgan Geyser was sentenced to 40 years in a psychiatric hospital for attempting to murder her friend in order to please a fictional character called Slender Man (also spelled “Slenderman”). In 2014, Geyser and friend Anissa Weier were only 12 when they stabbed fellow student Payton Leutner 19 times. Luckily, Leutner survived the attack.
Weier was sentenced in December to 25 years in a psychiatric facility after pleading guilty to attempted second-degree intentional homicide. Geyser — who suffered from schizophrenia and psychotic spectrum disorder at the time of the attempted murder — pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide in 2017.
The character Slender Man was birthed from an internet Photoshop contest in 2009. Creator Eric Knudsen designed Slender Man as unnervingly tall and thin. He has no facial features, wears a suit, and his limbs are unnaturally long. According to internet lore, Slender Man lures children into the woods, kills them, and then preys on the rest of their family.
Geyser and Weier intended to kill Leutner in order to become Slender Man’s “proxies,” thereby protecting themselves from his wrath.
They then planned to run away to Slender Man’s “mansion” in a nearby wooded area. There, they believed they would live with the creature under his protection.
Since 2009, Slender Man has only grown in popularity with his image being used in short films, viral photos, video games, and even Hollywood movies. Because his myth is so open-ended, his character has been placed into countless internet horror stories, leading younger audiences to question his fictionality.
To learn more about Geyser and Weier’s case, we recommend you watch Beware The Slenderman, currently available on HBO. It’s terrifying when a fictional character and story leads to real-world tragedy. Always remember that not everything you see on the internet is real.