What harm can internet and fictional characters do on your child’s mind can be best understood by an ill-fated fire incident of Port Richey, Florida.
A 14-year-old girl was arrested on charges of attempt to murder of her mother and young brother by setting her house ablaze in the midnight, while they were sleeping, after reading a fictional e-book “Soul Eater”, which talks about killing people.
Lily Marie Hartwell, a seventh grade student at Chasco Middle School, set her house on fire using a towel and a bedsheet soaked in rum and bleach. She kept the burning clothes in her garage and as soon as the flames grew bigger, she escaped to a nearby park.
The incident occurred around 1:45 am when the girl’s mother and her nine-year-old brother were in deep sleep. As the fire grew much bigger and started spreading in the house, they woke up by a smoke alarm and realized fire all over. Fortunately, they had a miraculous escape. Soon the fire fighters were called.
When the girl’s mother found Lily missing, the search effort began in the house full of fire. Following thorough searches thrice in the house, the fire fighters returned empty handed.
Lily’s mother got a text message reading- “Mom, I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I did it. Did any of you get hurt?”
Yes, it was Lily’s message to her mother.
A few hours later, the authorities traced her location in the park where she was hiding in a bathroom. After keeping the burning clothes in the garage, Lily had left for the park. She was carrying some important items with her including her clothes, cookies, bottled water, flashlights, lighters and knives.
Lily was held on three counts- one count of arson and two counts of attempted murder.
According to the police, the young girl said in her statement that she got an idea to set her home on fire after reading ‘Soul Eater’. Lily also told the police that she had visited the popular site ‘creepypasta.com’, which is famous among fans of ‘Slender Man’, a lean and abnormally tall fictional figure.
Slender Man, a fictional character featured in one of the most terrifying online stories, has earlier been linked with three more violent incidences like this.
In May this year, a 12-year old girl was stabbed by her classmates 19 times for the sake of pleasing Slender Man.
According to the police, Lily was highly obsessed with the fictional character Slender Man.
Her journal, which was recovered by the police, had words like “Keep Out” marked. According to the police, one of her post said, “If this keeps up there will be no safety in this house.”
“There’s a clear direction. She’s involved in reading these things,” said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.
The initial probe indicated that the young girl was very upset over the past bullying incidents and was also critical about the way her mother disciplines her while giving her instructions throughout, that probably forced her to take the drastic step.