Last Saturday morning, residents of Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee, were rocked by reports that two 12-year-old girls had stabbed another friend, also a 12-year-old girl, 19 times in a premeditated attempt at murder. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the victim survived after fleeing the scene and being discovered by a bicyclist. She is currently receiving hospital care and is in stable condition.
The two suspects, whose names are withheld due to their age, had allegedly been planning to commit the murder for months and chose the birthday of one of the suspects, May 30, as the date for the attack. The victim and two suspects, all of whom were attending Horning Middle School together, made plans to have a sleepover. During the sleepover, the girls took to a nearby wooded area to play hide-and-seek, during which time the suspects allegedly launched their attack, stabbing the victim repeatedly. Though the victim escaped and survived the attack, her wounds were near-fatal. According to a criminal complaint referenced by NBC News, a knife-wound near the heart came “one millimeter away from certain death.”
When authorities picked up the two suspects, one of whom had a knife, the girls admitted to the stabbings and indicated that they had carried out the plot in an effort to gain the favor of a fictional internet horror character called “Slender Man,” which the girls discovered on the horror website Creepypasta Wiki. Slender Man is an internet-era folk horror character which emerged from a thread in the Something Awful web forum. Over time, the character developed into a viral phenomenon, with fans creating their own Slender Man stories and content.
The alleged perpetrators claimed that they believed Slender Man to be real. They also claimed that they carried out the attack in an effort to become avatars of the character and out of a fear that Slender Man would kill their families if they did not.
The two suspects were arrested and charged as adults with attempted first degree intentional homicide. If convicted, they could face up to 65 years in prison. The bail for both suspects was set at $500,000. Due to the shocking nature of the age of the suspects and the connection to the Slender Man meme, an international firestorm of attention has ignited around the case, sparking debates around a variety of subjects, ranging from when children should have access to the internet to whether or not one of the suspect’s father’s interest in death metal music and gothic imagery could have contributed to the attack. A recent scientific study from The Journal of Pediatrics found no link between access to violent media and aggressive behavior in children.
Watch NBC News‘ video report on the attack below: