It's a horror movie come to life, and it's all being blamed on a scary, creepy Internet meme that won a horror movie-like Photoshop contest back in 2009.
Over the weekend, two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin lured another friend of theirs into the woods for a game of hide-and-seek, where they stabbed her 19 times and left her for dead. The two girls have since been charged as adults with attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
The victim is lucky to be alive. She crawled out of the woods, very near death, where she was rescued by a cyclist.
What drove these girls to try and kill their friend?
It was all in the name of Slender Man - a mythical meme that preys on and stalks children. Like the name suggests, he is tall, skinny, wears a black suit and has no face.
He was created by an artist who submitted black and white photos of Slender Man preying on children for the "Paranormal Pictures" Photoshop contest on the Something Awful Web forum in 2009.
Then, Slender Man went viral. He ended up on Creepypasta, a site for horror writers. It was from there that most of the legend of Slender Man took off.
It was here that Slender Man developed tentacle-like arms, the ability to stretch his arms really far, and the ability to give you "slender sickness," which includes insomnia, memory loss, paranoia and coughing fits.
These girls believed that by sacrificing their mutual friends to Slender Man, they would become one "a proxy of Slender" and would prevent Slender from killing their families. Once the murder was complete, the girls had planned to go to a mansion in a nearby park, where they thought Slender lived.
The whole story is absolutely terrifying and should serve as a reminder to talk to your children about online dangers.
Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack said:
"Parents are strongly encouraged to restrict and monitor their children's Internet usage," he said. "We must also remember that online is much more than just spending time on the computer, now smartphones and even video games are completely connected to the outside world. Parents, please talk to your kids about the dangers that exist online.”