The details behind two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin who allegedly tried to kill their classmate may be real, but Slenderman, the urban legend that fuelled their attack, is not.
Like Big Foot, or the Loch Ness Monster, Slenderman is a myth, existing within pop culture lore and the imagination of some, lacking any concrete evidence. Imagination was what created Slenderman — a lanky, faceless human dressed in a suit, sometimes with shadowy tentacles protruding from its back — but it was readers' fascination with the figure that gave it life.
Slenderman, as a myth, is less than 5 years old.
The original concept belongs to a Eric Knudsen, a Florida man who created Slenderman after he submitted two doctored photos of his creation to the forum SomethingAwful in 2009, the Associated Press reports. Knudsen then gave each photo a back-story, building up his creation as a creature responsible for the disappearance of 14 children, according to The National Post.
From there, Slenderman's popularity propelled it to sites like 4Chan, an online photo commenting board and creepypasta.wikia.com, a site for users to host and share short stories framed as non-fiction, aimed to "unnerve and shock the reader", according to the site.
The two girls accused of stabbing their friend 19 times reportedly learned about Slenderman from creepypasta.wikia.com and wanted to become "proxies" of Slenderman by killing the girl and retreating to his mansion afterwards. The site has distanced itself from the stabbing, saying the site is more than just Slenderman and caters to high school students and adults, NBC reports.
The site also stresses it is home to literature, and not a place to worship evil, according to a statement from CNN.
"This is an isolated incident, and does (not) represent ... the Creepypasta community as a whole. This wiki does not endorse or advocate for killing, worship, and otherwise replication of rituals of fictional works. There is a line of between fiction and reality, and it is up to you to realize where the line is. We are a literature site, not a satanic cult."
Since 2009, Slenderman has inspired various Youtube videos and two video games in which gamers are encouraged to wander through a dark forest without being caught by the shadowy figure.
Watch the video above for more details behind Slenderman