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OPINION - The Slender Man and a horrific crime

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) By now, you've heard the horrors of two 12-year-olds in Waukesha who stabbed a friend in the woods. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the most-detailed reporting on the case, including police interviews with the suspects. You should read it .

A few things are apparent to me.

First, dark fantasy, the Slender Man, and the horror stories on the CreepyPasta wiki web site has been elevated to religion in the lives of these pre-teens. They are, in a very real sense, Satanists. Slender Man is their deity.

Imagine how much idle time must have been spent on-line reading these stupid stories for them to become real in their minds. Imagine the absent-parenting; how is it possible that the adults in their lives were unaware of the dark place they've descended to? Devotion to horror/violence fantasy has become the center of these girls lives. The old adage is that you are what you think about the most.

Once we get over the horrors of this case -- there will be no satisfactory explanations about how 12 year olds could do this to each other -- we'll be left with two legal questions. First, should Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier be tried as adults? And second, were Geyser and Weier in their right minds when they stabbed their friend 19 times?

We may not like the answers.

Most criminal defendants must be 18 before being tried as adults. In particularly heinous crimes, 17 or 16 year olds can be adjudicated in adult court mostly because our juvenile penal system wouldn't get them until after their 18 th birthdays. But Geyser and Weier are only two-thirds to majority. The 12 year old brain isn't fully developed. Its entirely possible that their lawyers will try to reverse waive the case into juvenile court. They may win.

Were they insane? Geyser said, in her statement to police, that Slender Man lived in a mansion in the Nicolet National Forest. She was going to walk there - 175 miles - after the stabbing. She said he would kill them if they didn't prove their dedication by taking a life. Slender stalks her. He would take vengeance on her family if she backed down. He has the ability to read her mind. He can teleport. This is someone who is delusional. For this 12-year-old the fantasy world of horror stories and science fiction has blurred with reality.

By rights, the two defendants should be tried as juveniles and should be able to mount a successful not guilty by reason of mental defect defense. I don't think that's what will happen. There are some cases that are so outrageous, so offensive to our sensibilities, that Lady Justice tilts against the defendants. I think this case will stay in municipal court, and they will be tried as adults to face the full weight of the law. When this is all done, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier may indeed think Slender Man is real. These 12-year-olds may not be eligible for parole until theyre in their late thirties.

Chris Conley

Image:By User:Vacandorcucamilanstain (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons