Slender Man strikes again. The fictional horror villain that allegedly inspired two stabbings this year is back manipulating the minds of teen girls — this time in Florida. A 14-year-old girl set fire to her home because Slender Man told her to, or so she claims. The teen's family was reportedly asleep in the house at the time of the fire, but were able to escape the flames.
According to The Sun Coast News, the 14-year-old had an argument with her family before setting fire to her home, which may have been part of her motivation. She's being charged with one count of arson and two counts of attempted murder for her mother and 9-year-old brother.
The 14-year-old reportedly set the home on fire by soaking a bed sheet and a towel in bleach and rum, and then lighting it on fire in the garage. Although she fled the scene of the crime — and was found by authorities hours later — The Tampa Bay Times reported that the girl later sent a text message to her mother, apologizing:
Mom Im so sorry I dont know why I did it.
If this story wasn't already sad enough, it gets worse: Authorities say the girl was actively reading and writing about Slender Man, the fictional evil character that originated on Internet message boards. She allegedly read a book about murder called Soul Eater, visited the Slender Man-associated website Creepypasta Wiki, and wrote about the previous Slender Man stabbings in her journal. "There's a clear direction," the county's sheriff said in a news conference.
What's Slender Man? Well, he's basically pure evil. According to Creepypasta, a website devoted to fictional horror characters and stories Slender Man is a "paranormal figure" who stalks and kills children. The character originated on the forum Something Awful around 2009, and has taken off as an urban legend among the horror crowd.
Although Creepypasta explicitly states on its website that the stories are fictional, pre-teens and teens — mostly girls — have developed a twisted fascination with the lanky, demonic creature. In late May, two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin stabbed their friend 19 times after her luring her into the woods under the ruse of playing a game. Their friend survived the stabbing after a passerby found her crawling on a trail path, covered in blood.
The two pre-teens told authorities that they were going to kill their friend as an offering to Slender Man, and become his "proxies." They believed he lived in the woods of Wisconsin, and planned on running away to live with him.
Not long after the horrific incident, a 13-year-old girl in Ohio stabbed her mother in the kitchen of their home. According to the girl's mother, who survived the attack with minor injuries, her daughter had become obsessed with Slender Man, reading and writing about him. “I came home one night from work and she was in the kitchen waiting for me and she was wearing a mask, a white mask," the mother told local news station WLWT.
Although it's still too early to proclaim "Slender Man hysteria," this is probably a good time to remind teen girls everywhere (lest we want another Crucible on hour hands): Slender Man is fake.