The long read: When two 12 -year-old girls in Wisconsin invited their classmate for a game of hide-and-seek in the forest, they planned to assassination her. They later claimed the latter are forced to act by the mythical Slender Man
On a Friday night in late springtime of 2014, in the smaller, drab metropoli of Waukesha, Wisconsin, a trio of sixth-grade daughters got together to celebrate Morgan Geyser’s birthday. They skated for hours under the disco lightings at the roller rink: tamed, mousy-haired Payton Leutner, known as Bella; Anissa Weier, with her shaggy dark-brown mop top; and Morgan, the “best friend” they had in common, with her moon of a face, big glasses and long blond hair. They were three not-so-popular girls at Horning Middle School, a little more childish than the others, a bit more preoccupied with fiction and video games and making up scary tales. Morgan cast herself as a creative weirdo, and she related to her new friend Anissa on this level, through science fiction. Anissa, who had almost no other friends, had moved down the block after her parents’ recent divorce. When they got back to the birthday girl’s mansion, they greeted the cats, played games on their tablets, and then headed to Morgan’s bedroom, where they finally fell asleep, all three together in a puppy pile in the twin-size loft bed.
In the morning, the girls made a game out of hurling clumps of Silly Putty up at the ceiling. They role-played for a while- as the android from Star Trek and a troll and a princess- then ate a breakfast of doughnuts and strawberries. Morgan get her mother’s permission to walk to the small park nearby.
As they headed to the playground, Bella in the lead, Morgan lifted her plaid coat to show Anissa what she had folded into her waistband: a steak knife from the kitchen. Anissa was not astounded; they had talked about this moment for months.
After some time on the swings, Anissa indicated they play hide-and-seek in the suburban timbers at the park’s side. There, just a few feet beyond the tree line, Morgan, on Anissa’s cue, stabbed Bella in the chest.
Then she stabbed her again, and again, and again- in her arms, in her leg, near her heart. By the time Morgan stopped, she had stabbed her 19 times.
Bella, screaming, rose up, but she couldn’t walking straight. Anissa braced her by the arm( both of them were small) and she and Morgan produced her deeper into the trees, farther away from the road. They ordered Bella to lie down on the ground; they claimed they would go and get help. Lying on the grime and leaves, the back of her shirt becoming damp with blood, slowly hemorrhaging out in the lumbers, Bella was left to die.
About five hours later and a few miles away, while resting in the grass alongside Interstate 94, Morgan and Anissa were picked up by a pair of sheriff’s deputies. The deputies approached them carefully, aware that the girls is achievable suspects in a stab but confused by their age. One of the men noticed blood on Morgan’s clothes as he handcuffed her. When he asked if she was injured, she said no.
” Then where did the blood “re coming out” ?”
” I was forced to stab our friend .”
Morgan and Anissa did not yet are well aware that Bella, against all odds, had lived. After their seizures, over the course of virtually nine combined hours of interviews, they claimed that they were compelled to kill her by a monster they had encountered online. When discovered, the girls were making their style to him, heading to Wisconsin’s Nicolet national forest on foot, nearly 200 miles north. They were convinced that, once there, if they pushed farther and farther into the nearly 700,000 -acre forest, they would find the mansion in which their monster dwells and he would welcome them.
Morgan and Anissa had packed for the trip-up: granola saloons, water bottles and photos by which to remember their own families. Though they were both a very young, Midwestern 12, they had been chosen for a darknes and unique destiny that none of their junior-high classmates are likely to be understand, depict into the forest in the service of a force much greater and more mysterious than anything in their suburban American lives. What depicted them out there has a name: Slender Man, faceless and pale and impossibly tall. His symbol is the letter X inside a circle.
Girls lured out into the dark woods- this is the stuff of folk tales from so many countries, a new-world anxiety of the Puritans, an image at the core of sorcery and the occult. Some of our best-known folk tales were passed down by teens, specifically teenage girls.
To be an adolescent girl is, for many, to view yourself as desperately set apart, powerfully misunderstood. A special foreigner, horrible and extraordinary. The inundation of new hormones, hit from the glands into the bloodstream; the first charged touches, with a son or a girl; the first years of hemorrhaging in secret; the startling help feeling that your torso is suddenly hard to contain and, by extension, so are you. It’s an age defined by a raw lust for experience; by the chaotic beginning of a girl’s sexual ego; by obsessive friendships, fast emotions, birth certificates and rebirth of hard grudges, an inner life that stands outside of logic. You have an undiluted desire for private knowledge, for a genius shared with a select few. You bend reality regularly.