Outdoor World

Into the woods: how online urban legend Slender Man inspired children to kill

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.

Anissa and Morgan’s victim, 12 -year-old Bella Leutner being stretchered to an ambulance in Waukesha. Photo: Abe Van Dyke/ AP

Add to this heightened country a singular intimacy with another girl who feels the same separation – you’ve encountered the only other resident of your private planet- and the charge is exponentially increased.

There may only be one other crime, be carried out by daughters, that closely elicits that of Morgan and Anissa. It took place 60 years earlier, in 1954, in New Zealand.

Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme met at a conservative all-girls’ school in Christchurch, and became the closest of friends. Pauline was 16, and Juliet a few months younger. It was an unexpected friendship, as their families had little in common: Pauline’s parents were working-class( her father-god ran a fish and microchip shop ), while Juliet’s were wealthier and well travelled, and from England. Her father-god was the rector of the local university. But the girls got something that depicted them together: they had both been sickly children, Pauline with osteomyelitis( which left her with a hobble) and Juliet with pneumonia( which would lead to tuberculosis)- and that brought with it a peculiar kind of lonelines. Condoned from gym class, the pair invested that period walking through the yard comprising hands; they spoke almost exclusively to each other.

From this closeness, the two constructed a wholly immersive imaginative life. They bonded through regular sleepovers at Juliet’s house, and the swapping of chapters of the baroque fictions they were writing, packed with narrations of doomed intrigue and adventure. Pauline was stocky and boyish, with short black hair and a scar running down one leg; Juliet’s hair had blond highlightings, and she used taller and slimmer and wear well-tailored clothes. Pauline, who shuffled when she walked, was often ready to lash out; Juliet carried herself with the gentility and easy confidence of an aristocrat. They dreamed of running away together to America, where their work would be published to great acclaim and adapted for film. They rode their bicycles far into the countryside, took off their coats and shoes and socks, and danced until they were exhausted. Sometimes, late at night, Pauline would sneak away and journey her motorcycle to Juliet’s house; Juliet would slip out through a balcony and they would journey her horse through the dark woods.

On a bright June afternoon in 1954, Pauline and Juliet took a walk through a local park with Pauline’s mother. The place was vast, with a few hiking routes cleared between the young pines and outcroppings of volcanic stone. When the latter are far enough away from other walkers, Juliet furnished a distraction- a pretty pink stone she planted on the ground- and as Honorah Parker bent down to take a look, Pauline removed a piece of brick she had hidden in her container, wrapped in a school stocking, and brought it down on her mother’s brain. The female collapsed, and the girls took turns bludgeoning her- about 45 jolts to the psyche, her glasses knocked from her face, her dentures removed from her mouth- until she was dead.

According to Pauline’s journals, in the year leading up to the murder, she and Juliet had created their own religion, unimpressed by Christianity and inspired by elements in their lives both secular and sacred. They outlined on the Hollywood movies they had visualized at their local cinema for their coterie of “saints”( Mario Lanza, Orson Welles ), made a “temple” in a secluded corner of Juliet’s backyard, and marked their personal holidays with elaborated, choreographed rites. They believed they could have visions at will, of a” 4th World”, a holier realm inhabited by only the most transcendent of artists, a plane of life far above that of Pauline’s father, with his fish and chips, or her undereducated mom. With enough practice, each would soon be able to read the other’s thinker. Each built the other singular and perfect.

What eventually drove Pauline and Juliet to kill Pauline’s mother was the fear of being torn apart: Juliet’s mothers, who were separating, wanted Juliet to stay with her father’s sister in Johannesburg while they prepared to return to England; Honorah had refused to allow Pauline to go along. If this were to happen, “the worlds” they’d built together, over so many daydreamy afternoons and secret nighttimes out among the trees, would collapse.

In April 1954, Pauline wrote:” Anger against mother boiled up inside me. It is she who is one of the main obstacles in my route. Suddenly a the ways and means of ridding myself of the obstacle occurred to me .” And then in June, a series of enters. On 19 June:” We practically finished our volumes today and our main[ notion] for the working day was to moider mom. This notion is not a new one, but this time it is a definite program which we intend to carry out .”

On 20 June:” We discussed our plans for moidering mother and built them a little clearer. Peculiarly enough I have no qualms of conscience( or is it peculiar we are so mad ?).”

On 21 June:” I feel very keyed up, as though I were planning a astound party. So next time I write in this diary Mother will be dead. How odd yet how pleasing .”

And early on the morning of 22 June, on a page of her publication labelled, in curling letters,” The Day of the Happy Event “:” I am writing a little of this up on the morning before the fatality. I seemed very excited and’ The night before Christmas-ish’ last nighttime … I am about to rise !”

Like those girls in Christchurch, Morgan and Anissa were drawn to each other because of loneliness. Each visualized the other as an affirmation of her uniqueness; they shared a conceal, ritualised world. But Morgan and Anissa’s private universe was spun not from the matinee idols and historic fictions of the early 20 th century, but from the online fictions of our own time. They had dedicated themselves to an internet bogeyman.

Like a fairytale ogre, Slender Man emerged through a series of obliterate clues, never fully visible. He first appeared online, in the summer of 2009, in two vague images that were quickly passed around fright and fantasy fan forums. In the first, dated 1983, a horde of young teenagers streams out of a wooded area toward the camera, while behind them looms a tall and pale spectral figure with its hand outstretched. It is coupled with a message:” We didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but its lingering stillnes and outstretched limbs frightened and comforted us at the same day …”

In the second photo, dated 1986, we find a playground full of “girls “, all about six or seven years old. In the foreground, one pauses to face the camera, smiling, as she clambers a slide; in the background, in the shadows of a cluster of trees, others gather around a tall figure in a dark suit. If you seem closely, you can make out wavy limbs or tentacles emanating from its back. A label states that the photo is notable for being taken on the working day on which” fourteen children faded ,” and as a record of” what is referred to as’ The Slender Man .'” These photos were presented as “documents”: the 1986 image carries a watermark from” City of Stirling Libraries “; the photographers, respectively, are listed as” presumed dead” and “missing”.

These images were created by a 30 -year-old elementary-school teacher( Eric Knudsen, who goes by the name” Victor Surge “) in one of the collects of forums on the website Something Awful. Surge decided to take part in a new thread called ” Create Paranormal Images “. The play was to alter existing photographs using Photoshop, and then post them on other paranormal forums in an attempt to pass them off as the real thing. The monster was deliberately vague, his tale almost completely open-ended- and so the internet rushed in to induce of him what it craved. Bloggers, vloggers and forum members wrote intricate false confessions of encounters with Slender Man, and posted altered photographs and elaborate video series all predicated on the assumption that “Slender” was a real entity and a real threat.

Over the next several years, the monster spread at an exponential rate, mainly through alternate-reality plays- online text and videos created by fans feeding off the narratives of other users in real hour, creating a” networked narrative” that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. And as the story spread, it quickly lost its level of countries of origin, becoming instead the creative nexus for hundreds of thousands of users, of a nighttime, sprawling, real-time fairytale.

All that users knew at first was that Slender had the appearing of a lean humankind in a black suit, and there his humanoid features terminated. He is unnaturally tall- sometimes as tall as 3.5 metres( 12 ft)- and where his face “wouldve been” is simply blanched, featureless skin, stretched taut as a sausage casing, with shallow indentations in place of eyes and mouth. Occasionally, where reference is proves himself, a reverberate of long, grasping black tentacles, like supple branches, emerges from his back. Slender Man’s reasons are unclear, but he is associated with sudden disappearance and demise. And he has a pronounced appetite for children. Like a gothic Pied Piper, he calls the children out and produces them away from their world, never to be seen again. And where reference is allows them to stay in their suburban homes, he infects them with the desire to kill, and the yearn to be initiated into his darkest, innermost circle.

Morgan and Anissa, among the youngest members of such Slenderverse, were quickly consumed by the swirl, open-ended storyline. They latched on to him as a source of private ritual, the linchpin of the occult world the latter are building together. From the beginning, their friendship was forged by a kind of urgency. Anissa, including with regard to, suffering from browbeat after lately transferring to their school( a reality she continued from her parents) and needed this months-old bond with Morgan to last.( Morgan would afterward claim that she had gone ahead with the stabbing to keep Anissa “happy”: ” It’s, um, hard enough to make friends, I don’t want to lose them over something like this .”) Their bond was merely heightened by the alternate reality they inhabited together.

Morgan and Anissa shared visions they claimed were tangible, hyper-realistic. Like the adults posting on Slender Man meetings, the girls told each other that they were able to see “Slendy”- but with a vivid reality that determined them apart from any healthy adult fan. According to Anissa, after she first told Morgan about the monster, Morgan claimed she had spotted him when she was five, in a wooded area near her family’s home. Anissa told Morgan that she had appreciated him twice, in trees outside the window of the bus they shared to school.

Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme leaving Christchurch magistrates court. Photograph: Bettmann/ Bettmann Archive

When a detective questioned Anissa shortly after her arrest, she asked if Morgan had been the one to recommend they become “proxies,” or agents, of Slender Man.

Anissa: “Yeah.”

Detective:” And you said what ?”

Anissa:” I said:’ OK, how do we do that ?’ And she said:” We have to kill Bella .”

Detective:” OK.[ Pause .] And do you know why she said that ?”

Anissa:” Because we had to supposedly prove ourselves worthy to Slender .”

Detective:” And what did you think of this ?”

Anissa:” I was surprised- but also kind of aroused,’ cause I craved proof that he existed … So I decided to go along, to tag along, to demonstrate sceptics wrong .”

Detective:” So did you think that you actually had to kill someone to do it ?”

Anissa: “Yeah.”

Detective:” Like, for real ?”

Anissa: “Mm-hmm.”

About an hour into the interrogation, the detective asked Anissa:” When Morgan said to you,’ If we don’t do this for Slender, our families and loved ones will be killed ,’ do you honestly is argued that ?” Anissa, crying, answered in an astonished-kid voice:” Well, yeah .” More specifically, she believed that Slender Man” is very easy to kill my whole family in three seconds “. Just hours earlier, during their long trek to the Nicolet forest, the girls were remain convinced that they had caught a glimpse of him along the way- in the suburban timbers, among the trees by the highway. They could hear the rustling of him following close by.

The misdemeanours, in both Christchurch and Waukesha, were striking in their childishness. In spite of the girls’ months of secret talks and journal-writing and to-do lists, the two attacks, when carried out, were stupid and clumsy; they had no mind what they were doing. Some of the details they had supposed through were fairytale specific: Juliet’s idea to confuse Honorah Parker with a pink gemstone on the path; Anissa’s idea to lead Bella into the woods through the offer of a game of hide-and-seek. Reckon of the fact that Morgan and Anissa could still tempt their friend into the woods through such a simple play; the explosions of energy with which that game is played; and Bella ” disguising” from people she should genuinely have concealed from. That morning, Morgan brought the bayonet with her in the way that she might have brought a rod to a Harry Potter movie screening. And perhaps she believed that she could perform magic with a toy- but that suggestion brought with it no real-world repercussions. Playing with a bayonet, of course, did.

Their childish incomprehension of the gravity of violence, and the callousness that comes with that, is painfully evident in the girls’ interviews while in custody. When Anissa describes her nervousness as they approached the playground that morning, the detective asks what she was most nervous about. She answered:” Realise a dead person.’ Cause the last time I insured a dead person it was at a funeral and it was my uncle .” When asked what Morgan had been upset about in the park, Anissa says:” Killing. She had never done that before. She’d stabbed apples before- with, like, chopsticks- but she’d never actually cut a flesh weave into somebody .”

Pauline and Juliet continued to behave like immature girls, unaware of what was at stake, even after their arrest. When Pauline was taken into detention alone- at first, police believed Juliet was not directly involved- she didn’t want to break her habit of publication write, so she wrote a new entering, stating that she had managed to pull off the “moider” and was ” taking the blame for everything “.( A detective on the lawsuit quickly impounded it as evidence .) Once both girls were at the station, sharing a cell, the latter are placed on suicide watch, but they expended their first night( so a police officer would later report) gossiping in their bunk beds, unconcerned about their new environment.

In a courtroom packed with spectators, Pauline and Juliet were out of sync with the tint of the proceedings. Seated together in the dock, they appeared loosen and indifferent, often whispering excitedly to each other and smiling. One writer described their attitude throughout as one of” contemptuous delight “.

In the months before Bella’s stabbing in 2014, Morgan Geyser was entering into adolescence( she had just had her first period) and, at the same time, descending into mental illness. After her initial five-hour interview brought to an end, Morgan, still without her mothers, in clothes and slippers provided by the Waukesha police, was placed in the Washington County jail for adolescents. Anissa was there, too, but they were not allowed to interact. Morgan could have no visitors other than her parents, who were required to sit on the other side of a glass divider; only after a few months into her remain was she permitted to touch or comprise them, and even then only twice a month. Over the summer, she became, as her mother, Angie described her,” floridly psychotic “. She continued to have conversations with Slender Man, as well as characters from the Harry Potter series( at one point, she claimed that Severus Snape retained her up until 3am ); she saw unicorns; she treated the ants in her cell like pets.

In the autumn of that time, Morgan was moved to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute for a few months of 24 -hour observation, to determine if she had a chance of being competent enough to stand trial. There, she was given a psychological evaluation that concluded she had early-onset schizophrenia- very rare for someone really young. At a hearing in December 2014, the judge find Morgan capable of standing trial and ordered her back to Winnebago for treatment, but the facility could no longer take her now that she had been deemed “competent”. Her parents asked for her $500,000 bail to be reduced to a signature bond so that she could be moved to a group home for girls with mental and emotional issues, but the request was denied because the home was not considered secure enough. By late 2015, Morgan Geyser, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was still not being treated for it.

Morgan’s hallucinations were grounded in something more specific: her genetic inheritance. Her parent, Matt, began his lifelong struggle with schizophrenia at 14 years old( he receives government assistance due to his illness ). In a recent film, Beware the Slenderman, he talked about his coping mechanisms for living with schizophrenia: he runs numbers in his head and tries to” put up static” to block out his visual and auditory hallucinations. Matt and his wife, Angie, decided early on to delay sharing the fact of Matt’s illness with their daughter until she developed older – why build her fearful of a genetically inherited disorder that she might never have to face? She had shown no clear warning signs.

In January 2016, after 19 months without treatment, Morgan was ultimately committed to a state mental institution and put one over antipsychotic medication. By spring, her attorney claimed that her hallucinations were receding, and her circumstance was improving rapidly. But in May of that year, after two years of incarceration, Morgan attempted to cut her arm with a shattered pencil, and was placed on suicide watch.

Late this September, Morgan accepted a plea bargain, agreeing to be placed in a mental institution indefinitely, thus avoiding the possibility of prison. Just weeks earlier, Anissa had also accepted a deal, pleading guilty to the lesser charge of attempted second-degree homicide. A jury recommended she be sent to a mental institution for at the least three years.

The joint trial of Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme also hinged on the question of their mental health issues. Were the girls delusional? Clinically paranoid? Or had they been completely aware of the results of their actions and chosen to go ahead with their program irrespective? The defence argued that the girls had been swept up in a folie a deux , or” madness between two”- a rarely cited , now-questionable diagnosis of a psychosis developed by two men socially isolated together. The misdemeanour was too sensational and the defence too exotic for the jury to be persuaded. They deliberated for a little over two hours before finding the girls guilty.

Juliet got the worst of it. She was sending them to Mt Eden prison in Auckland , notorious for its infestation of rats and its damp, cold cells( particularly bad for an inmate who had recently suffered from TB ). There Juliet split her hour between prison study( scrubbing floorings, building uniforms in the sewing room) and writing substance the overseer called ” sexy stuff “. In a letter addressed to a friend, Juliet’s father are concerns that she was ” still up in the clouds … totally removed and filled with herself and her grandiose notions about poetry and writing “. Five months after the misdemeanour, Juliet remained unbowed, still immersed in literature and a eyesight of the great artist she could become.

Slender Man. Photo: PR

After five and a half years, both were released by order of the executive heads assembly, and each was able to start their own lives again, under an alias. Juliet Hulme , now Anne Perry, moved to England; employing the shorthand she learned in prison, she got a job as a secretary. But she hadn’t lost sight of her and Pauline’s plan to the working day move to California. When she used turned down for a visa( her criminal history was hard to overlook ), she began working as a steward for an airline that are typically flew to the US. One period, upon arriving in Los Angeles, she disembarked and never got back on the plane. She rented a lousy apartment, took on odd jobs and wrote regularly. By the time she was in her 30 s, she had gotta go back to England and launched a career as a crime novelist. She has since published more than 50 fictions, selling more than 25 m volumes worldwide.

The next chapter of Pauline’s life was not marked by such bravado. She became Hilary Nathan, and eventually moved to a small village in south-east England. There she bought a farmworker’s bungalow and stables, and taught children around reading difficulties at a nearby school; she attended daily mass at the local Catholic church. After retiring, she committed riding lessons at her home. When her identity and locating were indicates that there is the press in 1997, Pauline, then 59, speedily sold her property and disappeared.

She left behind an elaborated mural on the wall of her bedroom, which the buyers belief she had painted herself- a collect of scenes that are part fairytale illustration, proportion religion allegory. Near the bottom, there is an image of a girl with dark, wavy whisker( like her own) diving underwater to grasp an icon of the Virgin Mary; elsewhere, the same girl- as a winged angel, naked and ragged- is locked in a birdcage. At the mural’s crest, a beautiful blonde( a girl who resembles Juliet) sits astride a Pegasus- glowing, exuberant, limbs outstretched. And the blonde appears again, on horseback, apparently about to take flight, as the Pauline figure tries to bridle the animal.

On display in these images is both the narcissism of adolescence and the remorse of adulthood- the punishment of a woman who has resolved to receive the sacrament every single period. And what bridges these two elements is an image at the mural’s centre: the Pauline girl seated, psyche bowed, under a succumbing tree against a dying scenery. The occult language of nature- those late nights in the garden, those dark plans in the timbers- had nothing left to give her. It had lost its pagan power.

A powerful narcissism was also in full view during the interrogation of Anissa Weier. After being arrested for the stab of Bella Leutner, the first question Anissa asked the detective was not about her friend’s situation but about how far she and Morgan had walked the working day (“‘ make I’m not typically very athletic and I simply wanna know “). She seemed very impressed by the challenges they had faced on their long walking after leaving Bella, harping on about the distance, the risk of being hot fatigue and mosquitoes, and the limited snacks( the granola saloon she had packed was ” disgusting “). Near the end of her interview, she seemed about to share a revelation with the detective 😛 TAGEND

Anissa:” I merely realised something .”

Detective:” What’s that ?”

Anissa:” If I don’t go to school on Monday, that’ll be the first day that I miss of school .”

Anissa was later diagnosed with a” shared delusional faith”- a condition that faded the longer she used separated from Morgan. “Shes been” upset and unmoored by her mothers’ divorce, and by the bullying at school, but was otherwise mentally stable. While it is fairly easy, based on the video footage, be suggested that something was incorrect with Morgan- she seemed detached and spaced-out- it seems quite clear that Anissa was not ill. She seemed more frightened than Morgan, more in touch with the reality of the situation, crying occasionally throughout. She didn’t read as flighty; she didn’t speak in a distant, spooky voice; she seemed upset, but grounded. She answered questions with the eagerness and precision of a girl who wanted to be the best student in class. And this is precisely why it’s so upsetting to watch footage of the following exchange, about the immediate the consequences of the stabbing.

Detective:” So[ Bella] was screaming ?”

Anissa:” Mm-hmm. And then, um, subsequentlies, to try to keep her quiet, I said:’ Sit down, lay down, stop screaming – you’ll lose blood slower .’ And she tried complaining that she couldn’t breathe and that she couldn’t see .”

Detective:” So she started calling:’ I hate you, I trusted you ‘?”

Anissa: “Mm-hmm.”

Detective:” She got up ?”

Anissa:” Yeah. She got up and tried to walk towards the street … It led to the other side of Big Ben Road .”

Detective:” So she tried to walk towards the street, and what happened ?”

Anissa:” And then she collapsed and said that she couldn’t see and she couldn’t breathe and likewise that she couldn’t walk. And so then Morgan and I kind of directed her away from the road and said that home was this lane- and we were going deeper into the forest area .”

Detective:” So she said- she fell down and said she couldn’t breathe or realise .”

Anissa:” Mm-hmm. Or stroll .”

Detective:” Or walk. And you had told her to …”

Anissa:” To’ lay down and be quiet – you’ll lose blood slower ‘. And that we’re going to get help .”

Detective:” But you really weren’t going to get her assistance, right ?”

Anissa: “Mm, no.”

At this degree in the interview, Anissa was wrapped in a large wool blanket. The detective handed it to her because the space was chilly. Perhaps she was trying to gain Anissa’s confidence, or perhaps it was simply instinctive, offering comfort to a young girl being held in a concrete chamber. Anissa had been exclaiming- but whether this was from genuine repentance or a kid’s panic of getting into trouble is anyone’s guess. The look upon her face did not tell us. And then the detective read it back to her- the histories of two girls who led their pal into the woods.

A longer version of this essay first appeared in the Autumn 2017 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

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Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ news/ 2017/ dec/ 07/ slender-man-into-the-woods-how-an-online-bogeyman-inspired-children-to-kill

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