The Slender Man strikes again.
Florida teenager Lily Marie Hartwell is accused of taking rum-and-bleach-soaked sheets and lighting them on fire in what appears to be a horrific effort to burn down her family home with her mother and brother inside.
How could a 14-year-old girl, who neighbors say was your run-of-the-mill middle schooler, try to burn her mother and brother alive? Authorities say she is obsessed with Slender Man. That, and she had just had an argument with her mom about doing chores around the house. You know, the usual stuff that might make you want to murder your family.
Luckily her mother and 9-year-old brother got out of the blaze alive, but when she couldn’t find her daughter, Lily’s mother tried to run into the burning house to find her. She wasn’t there. She set the fire and walked to a public bathroom and fell asleep.
Later, she sent her mother a text saying, “Mom, I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I did it. Did any of [YOU] get hurt?”
The police found her, and she’s now facing charges of arson and attempted murder.
So what is the deal with this Slender Man nonsense? Urban legend. Slender Man is nothing more sinister than an internet meme created in June 2009. But Slender Man grew beyond spooky stories swapped amongst teenagers by flashlight into a full-blown national concern earlier this summer when two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls, apparently also inspired by Slender Man, stabbed their friend 19 times. Their victim survived and was able to return to school this week.
Those drawn to the Slender Man congregate online at a site called CreepyPasta, which specializes in horror fan fiction.
“Dragging Slenderman to the computer in the back room, Jeff proceeded to show him the worst story he had ever found on the internet,” one short story about the Slender Man submitted by Will C. reads. “By the end Slenderman was puking out the window into his garden. Jeff tried not to envision what it was like for a man to purge when he had no mouth.”
Not real highbrow fiction, but apparently the idea of a mysterious, waify, pasty murderer is striking a chord amongst disaffected kids across the country. But unlike The Blair Witch Project, the Slender Man is sparking some real-life horrific violence.
Kids, the Slender Man isn’t real. Go watch Scooby-Doo.
More Slender Man and teens
Who is Slender Man, and what is CreepyPasta?
Don’t be surprised if your kids know about Slender Man
Like mother, like daughter: Teen girls are dealing with multiple pressures