Last night HBO aired its documentary “Beware the Slenderman” and it was incredible. The case itself is a strange and interesting one to tell because it sheds some light on what these girls were thinking. I would suggest reading the post I did earlier on this subject to get more context.
Beware The Slenderman
I was in high school during the “Slenderman Era” when everyone was really into it (2013-14) and I remember playing the game and my friend and I drew the notes that you have to find in the game and hid them around the school. It was an incredibly popular creepypasta, I mean everyone knew who he was. I never thought that this would cause two girls to lose their minds and attempt to kill their friend. There are millions of creepypastas out there and honestly, there are quite a few that are a lot more terrifying than Slenderman.
Schizophrenia & Slenderman Don’t Mix
When I started watching this documentary I was worried that it was going to be filled with parents condemning video games for being violent. However, I was pleasantly surprised that they brought in experts to discount this theory. Basically, the explanation for the girl who actually did the stabbing, Morgan, was schizophrenia.
Sometimes I feel that mental disorders are taken advantage of and simply used to get someone a lesser sentence, but I honestly believe this girl has schizophrenia. Her father has it too and so the chances that she would get it are very high. Also, when you hear her talk about Slenderman, it is really eerie because she honestly believes that he exists. When you have schizophrenia it can be very hard to dissociate what is real and what is just a hallucination. Morgan’s father sheds a little light on what it is like to have schizophrenia and it sounds like one of the most horrific mental illness.
He said that he will see something and he knows it isn’t there but it is still terrifying. He mentioned one time he was sitting in his car and the devil was in the back seat staring at him and he knew that the devil wasn’t actually there… but yet there he was. It was chilling to hear him talk about this and it makes it easy to imagine what it would be like for a 12-year-old girl who has been reading about a creepypasta to be able to conjure up in her mind.
Hindsight is 20/20
I couldn’t help but question why the parents would not get Morgan tested for schizophrenia if they knew the father had it. Also, in the beginning, Morgan’s mother mentioned that she did not react the way you would expect a child to act. She referenced a time when they watched Bambi and Morgan sat there emotionless as Bambi’s mother died. These were all warning signs that should have raised some red flags, but hindsight is 20/20.
I just think that if her parents would have known that she had schizophrenia they could have taught her how to differentiate between what was real and what was fake. I believe Slenderman was a chance for her mind to run wild and since she believed that everything she saw and felt was real, how was she supposed to know Slenderman wasn’t going to come and kill her family?
The Words of a Killer
In the beginning, you find out that Morgan was the one who actually did all the stabbing and the other girl, Anissa, just stood there and watched. At first, I thought that Anissa just gets caught up in this and didn’t want to go through with it and was sort of a victim herself, but once I heard the police interview that all changed. Anissa told police her involvement in the attempted murder and she was anything but innocent, she said that she was the one who came up with who they were going to kill. Anissa even told Morgan that she wanted to kill her while she was asleep because she “can’t stand screaming” and if her eyes are open you can “see yourself in them and it’s like killing yourself”…… that is some messed up stuff! Especially for a 12-year-old to be saying. When you say to police that you and your friend chased the victim down “like lionesses after a zebra” you are a messed up person.
One of Anissa’s childhood friends told HBO cameras that Anissa had told her that she had tons or friends. The friend also said that Anissa was a “follower.” Now we know that Anissa was lying about the number of friends she had because Morgan was her only friend at school and that she was also introverted. Both Morgan and Anissa were fans of Slenderman and what I found interesting was that a lot of children and teenagers who were not popular and school and got bullied regularly looked to Slenderman as a rescuer.
From what I have read about Slenderman was that he was this creepy monster that kidnapped kids and ate them or killed them. However, that is the extent of the research I did on Slenderman, these girls knew far more than I did which obviously means they were more obsessed and researched this story deeper.
The Tall Man
It is honestly really depressing that teenagers that are bullied will sometimes turn to monsters for comfort. The challenge with Slenderman is that he was created online and the story continued to grow, change, and spread and there really is no way to disprove his existence. The reason these creepypastas are so creepy is because a lot of them can’t be disproven like there could totally be a man in the woods kidnapping children. A good example of this is in the movie “The Tall Man.”
This movie takes place in the fictional town of Cold Rock and basically, there is this man who kidnaps a bunch of kids and actually moves them into homes that will give them a brighter future. Cold Rock is a dead end town with loser people so the “Slenderman-like” man takes the kids and moves them to the city and they are “adopted” by a new family. At the end of the movie a girl finds out that he is taking kids for a better life and she asks to be taken. This has a similar feel to it as Slenderman since bullied kids look to Slenderman and hope that he will rescue them from their horrible life and take them somewhere better. So movies like this give the Slenderman creepypasta a life-like persona and prove that he could be real.
What Happens Now
The girls are facing 65 years in prison because they are being tried as adults, and after watching this documentary I completely agree with this ruling. These girls planned to kill this girl, this was not in anyway an accident and the judge felt that the crime and punishment should be one in the same. The girls have not been sentenced yet, that is supposed to happen sometime this year.
In the documentary, we heard from Morgan’s parents who hear from her every once in awhile and they have to sit and listen to her slowly drown in her mental illness. She would talk about her “friends” in her cell, even though she was being held in solitary. As for Anissa, she was in no way a victim and she is also awaiting her sentencing. The true victims of this crime were obviously the girl who was stabbed, Payton aka “Bella,” and her parents, as well as the parents of the stabbers who never saw it coming.
This whole case shows how your mind can drive you to believe crazy things and all it takes is a little push to do something completely horrific. These girls both suffer from mental illness, one with schizophrenia and the other with psychopathic tendencies, and this whole case shows that when two people believe in something they feed off of each other and become even more obsessed. This obsession and fear can lead down a dark path, which is unfortunately where they ended up. Both of these girls were subconsciously waiting for that one thing their mind can obsess over and Slenderman just happened to be the element that made them unravel.
I think the scariest part about this is that we could all be waiting for that one thing to make us transform into a darker version of ourselves.