Warning: This post contains graphic descriptions of violence.
In a girl’s bedroom in southeastern Wisconsin, Barbie dolls, some with missing hands and feet, had been marked with a symbol — a circle with an “X” running through it that represents a fictional character called “Slender Man.” More than 60 drawings of the tall, faceless creature were tucked away in her notebooks, police said, and she had written messages with them that included “I love killing people” and “Help me escape my mind.”
The girl and her friend are accused of attempted first-degree murder in a surreal case that garnered national attention last summer because of its connection to an online character born from a Web site devoted to horror stories and legends. In May, the girls, who were both 12 at the time, allegedly lured a classmate into a park in suburban Milwaukee and stabbed her 19 times to please Slender Man and become his “proxies.” They allegedly left the victim for dead and started walking toward the Nicolet National Forest, where they said they thought Slender Man lived.
During a two-day preliminary hearing this week, defense attorney Anthony Cotton tried to get one girl’s case moved to juvenile court, claiming his client believed Slender Man was real — and that, if she and her co-defendant didn’t kill someone for him, the monster would come for their families. On Monday, he referenced sketches found in the girl’s bedroom that came with phrases such as “never alone,” ‘’safer dead” and “can’t run.” Her notes read “not safe even in your own house” and “he is here always,” according to the Associated Press.
Cotton is trying to get the charge lowered to second-degree attempted homicide.
“It’s absolutely clear [the girl] believes in him,” Cotton said.
Psychologist Deborah Collins testified on Tuesday that she met with the girl several times and came to the same conclusion: The girl believes Slender Man is real. In addition, Collins told the judge, the girl told her she believes in Lord Voldemort, the villain in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series, and thinks she can control her negative emotions through Vulcan mind control a la “Star Trek.” Both girls have been deemed competent to stand trial and could face up to 65 years in prison if convicted as adults.
Her belief “hasn’t wavered and it’s been unyielding to a rational perspective,” Collins said, according to the AP.
The judge declined to rule on Tuesday, but said he would do so next month.
For months, prosecutors said, the preteen defendants had plotted to kill their classmate. One girl allegedly told police they planned to carry out the slaying during a slumber party last summer so they wouldn’t have to see their victim’s eyes. They would duct tape her mouth, stab her in the neck and cover her with blankets to make it look like she was asleep — then run away, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. But they allegedly waited until the next day.
One girl allegedly told police she knew there was a drain for the blood splatter in a wooded park in Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee. Once they were there, however, one girl allegedly had a “nervous breakdown,” as one defendant put it. The other allegedly suggested a game of hide-and-seek to distract the victim.
On May 31, 2014, one girl allegedly told the other, “go ballistic, go crazy,” according to a criminal complaint. Then the two girls allegedly stabbed their classmate 19 times. One blow barely missed her heart.
After the defendants left the scene, the victim reportedly crawled to a nearby roadway, where a bicyclist saw her and called 911. After numerous surgeries, the girl has recovered and is back at school, according to news reports.
During hearings this week, the defense attorney played audio from one girl’s interrogation video.
“[The co-defendant] jumped on [the victim] and started stabbing her repeatedly, and that’s when I turned around because I couldn’t stand to see that,” she said, according to WISN-TV. “The whole time [the victim] was screaming in agony, saying stuff like, ‘I hate you guys. I’ll never forgive you. I trusted you.'”
The girl added that she was hesitant at first, but feared Slender Man would come after the girls and their families if they didn’t follow through.
“I was kind of surprised and didn’t want to do it, but later I didn’t want to leave [the co-defendant] all by herself out here because who knows with a creature out here, so I thought decided to go along, tag along,” she said.
Waukesha police Detective Michelle Trussoni said that, when asked how she felt, one defendant replied: “The bad part of me wanted her to die. The good part of me wanted her to live.”
Following the incident, investigators found clues in one of the defendant’s bedrooms — disturbing drawings, written words and dismembered Barbie dolls. One of the sketches was a picture of a long-haired girl wielding a knife. They found an image with crossed out eyes and a note that said, “He still sees you.” And they found a supply list for the alleged crime, listing items such as “map of forest,” “weapons” and “will to live.”
On the girl’s computer, police found an Internet search history that included queries like “how to get away with murder,” according to the AP.
During initial police interrogation, each defendant blamed the other for the incident, investigators testified in court.
In a video interview with police, one girl told investigators she attacked her friend because she was scared of Slender Man — but also because she wanted to prove he was real.
“He is anywhere from 14 to 60 feet tall. He constantly wears a suit. He doesn’t have a face,” she said, according to WITI-TV. “He targets children. He has tendrils on his back. I was really scared he could kill my whole family in three seconds.”
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