What strange singularity is the human race approaching when crimes based on creepypastas begin to permeate the news cycle? If you’re not in the know, creepypastas are an online form of story telling that has born urban legends like Slenderman and Jeff the Killer. These characters are alternate versions of the boogeymen that kept you awake as a child, with odd modern twists. Shortly after Slenderman became an underground success thanks to the YouTube show Marble Hornets and a slew of video games based on the character, creepypasta crimes popped up in small towns across America.
It’s hard to prove if murders inspired by creepypasta were actually dreamt up by someone after they read about dead girlfriends posting on Facebook from beyond the grave, or if the online horror stories were weaved into the real life narrative as a way to make sense of the crimes. At the end of the day, it's important to remember creepypastas are just stories. At best, they take advantage of their medium to tell a new version of an old story (and scare the pants off of you). They weren’t designed to make children kill, but some people may never understand that.
The Slenderman Stabbings
Perhaps the most famous creepypasta-inspired crime was the brutal assault on a 12-year-old girl by two of her friends, who attempted to stab the girl death as a sacrifice to Slenderman. The girls claim they took their friend to a park bathroom and stabbed her 19 times to please Slenderman and gain permission to live in his mansion deep within the Nicolet National Forest. In 2015, a judge ruled the two girls would stand trial as adults because of the pre-meditated nature of their crime. If convicted, the two could each face up to 65 years in prison. As of November 2016, the girls have yet to be tried.
In this deeply troubling story, the aspect that's most bothersome (other than the stabbing) is the fact that the Slender Mansion (what a terrible pun by the way) comes from a video game that's tangentially based on the original creepypasta. Which begs the question, did these kids really think they could live in a house from a video game by killing one of their friends? And, if so, how detached from reality are they?
Laughing Jack Tells 12 Year Old to Kill Her Stepmom
In 2015, a 12-year-old girl stabbed her stepmother to death before setting her apartment on fire. The girl claimed Laughing Jack instructed her to do it. Laughing Jack is a variation on the evil imaginary friend folk tale, a clown who befriends children before penetrating their dreams, slicing them open, and removing their internal organs so he can replace them with candy.
Laughing Jack is the Mad-Lib of creepypastas, and was all too real for this Indiana girl, who was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder after being declared incompetent to stand trial. She reported hearing voices and having alternate personalities months before the crime, and even asked her father for help, though wasn't given any.
13 Year Old Stabs Her Mother for Slenderman
A 13-year-old girl from Ohio stabbed her mom repeatedly in their kitchen in 2014, her actions allegedly inspired by Slenderman. The mother suffered only minor injuries, but was understandably shaken after the attack.
“I came home one night from work and she was in the kitchen waiting for me and she was wearing a mask, a white mask." Yikes!
Even if your kid isn't a nerd who's obsessed with poorly written online horror stories, no one wants to talk into a situation like that. It's not clear how Slenderman is connected to stabbing your parents. Maybe he's just a really angsty monster?
Burnin' Down the House for Slenderman
You know who hates houses and all general living spaces? Slenderman. He haaaates it when people have four walls with a roof. Or at least that's the yarn a 14-year-old girl in Florida tried to spin after attempting to burn down her parent's house with a bed sheet and towel soaked in bleach and rum, nearly killing her mom and 9-year-old brother. You can't get more Florida than that.
Police believe the girl's love of reading creepypasta and writing Slenderman fanfic had something to do with the arson, but there's nothing about the ghostly tall man telling children to burn down houses in the stories. You could argue he drives people to madness, but it's a stretch akin to blaming that time you keyed your ex's car on Cthulu.
Walking Sam Inspiring Suicides in South Dakota
A far sadder story than many crimes committed in the name of spooky spaghetti is that of the South Dakota Sioux teens driven to suicide by Walking Sam, a Slenderman-esque character said to drive victims to hang themselves. The story of Walking Sam has a few permutations (as urban legends tend to do); he either has been tasked to walk the earth and collect spirits as some kind of punishment, or he's a shadow person who drives people to kill themselves because he's so spooky.
Between December 2014 and May 2015, at least 103 people, and maybe as many as 241, attempted suicide at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Nine people between the ages fo 12 and 24 were successful in the killing themselves. Sioux tribal police removed four nooses left spookily dangling from trees as invitations for teens to hang themselves. It's unclear who put the nooses there.
Cop Killer Dressed Like Slenderman
"Oh brother." - The creators of Slenderman when they found out Jerad Miller, a man accused of killing two cops and a civilian before committing suicide with his wife in Las Vegas, enjoyed dressing up as their creation for funsies.
There's no evidence linking Miller's obsession with Slenderman to his less cool obsession with killing cops, but the fact that it was included in an ABC News write up on the world's most famous creepypasta proves the media's fascination with the entertainment choices of criminals is never going to go away, and that if you enjoy the same things as a known murderer, you probably shouldn't tell anyone.
For what it's worth, Eric Knudsen, one of the guys responsible for bringing Slenderman to life, has routinely voiced his disgust with the violence his character may or may not have inspired.
The Pope Lick Monster Strikes Again
The Pope Lick Monster is a cryptid/urban legend/creepypasta with odd staying power for something you wouldn't consider a top tier spooky folk tale. So what the hell is it? Well, essentially, the Pope Lick Monster is a goat/human hybrid that lives on top of a railway bridge in Kentucky and uses hypnosis to call out to anyone who's dumb enough to hike through its lair, gets them to climb to the top of the bridge, and then they usually get hit by a train.
This might sound totally crazy, but there have been so many accidental deaths prescribed to people searching for this monster railroad officials have made it abundantly clear that anyone caught on the bridge could be prosecuted for trespassing. Some visitors to the area also try hanging from the bridge, as the protagonist in a short (fictional) film about the monster did.
England Has a Slenderman Spotting
You know what's not fun to see after a rash of stabbings, arsons, and attempted murders influenced in some way by Slenderman? The spooky spectre himself walking around the United Kingdom, possibly looking for more children to negatively influence. In Cannock Chase, a "sleeping mining town" in Stratfordshire, there have been multiple sightings of a "lean, shadowy spirit" with "blood red eyes." Here's the thing, it's not illegal for someone to go around dressed up as Slenderman, but, given the negative press surrounding the character, it seems like a bad idea. Especially if you're dealing with people who aren't interested in cosplay and just want to beat up some dork in a morph suit. Be careful out there everybody.