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Pop culture killers

Black and white photo of someone wearing the Scream ghost faced killer costume
Scream's ghostface | Photo by Hello I'm Nik | Unsplash Images

If you’ve ever watched a film and found yourself aligning with the charismatic antagonist, you wouldn’t be alone. Good villains are written to make us question the realities of right and wrong and blur the lines between good and evil. While it’s not uncommon to find a sympathetic common ground with the baddies of a story, most of us can recognize that their methods are deplorable and inexcusable. But what about those who begin to idolize their methods of madness? Here are three harrowing examples of criminals that found their inspiration for murder and mayhem in pop culture.

The Slender Man

Originating on the internet circa 2009, The Slender Man was the creation of user Eric Knudson on the Something Awful forum. Initially a CreepyPasta (an urban legend created and perpetuated on the internet), The Slender man began to gain popularity first as a meme and then a pop culture icon. Forums were filled with legends, horror stories, and fan fiction written about the ominous being that was unnaturally tall and unnervingly thin with a pale white face. The myth of the Slender Man began to take on a life of its own in 2014 when it hit the national stage.

On May 31st, 2014, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser (both 12 at the time) lured their friend Payton Leutner into the nearby woods under the guise of playing hide and seek. Having become obsessed with the Slender Man legends, Weier and Geyser went on to stab Leutner 19 times with a five-inch blade. The wounds covered Leutner’s arms, legs, and torso and punctured her liver and stomach.

Once Weier and Geyser had completed their attack, they assured Leutner that they would get help. This wasn’t true, however, and the girls made no attempts to raise the alarm. Realising that help wasn’t coming, Leutner dragged herself to a nearby road, where a passing cyclist discovered her. After six days in the hospital, Leutner was discharged and returned home.

Weier and Geyser were both tried as adults due to the violent nature of the crime. However, they were both found not guilty due to mental disease or defect and were sentenced to a collective 65 years in a mental institution.


On October 3rd, 2012, Jacob Ryan Evans was having a seemingly ordinary afternoon. Having gone to the driving range to hit some golf balls and run some errands with his Grandma, Evans stole his grandfather’s gun and proceeded to kill his mother and sister.

When giving his four-page written confession to the police, Evans revealed that he had also intended to kill both of his grandparents and two older sisters. However, his spree came to an end after Evans experienced something unexpected: remorse.

Having shot his younger sister and then his mother, Evans realised that his sister was still alive. Feeling remorseful for his actions, Evans hastily reloaded the gun before racing to reshoot his sister. He then shot his mother in the head to ensure that she, too, really was dead.

Evans admitted to having watched the Rob Zombie remake of the horror classic Halloween multiple times in the week leading up to the murders as part of his confession. He admitted that he thought that he would feel no remorse like the film’s protagonist Michael Myers in killing his family. However, when confessing his actions to the 911 operator, Evans stated that he hated the feeling of killing someone.


In 2001 Thierry Jardin, a 24-year-old Belgia truck driver befriended his 15-year-old neighbour Alisson Cambier. After inviting her round to his place to borrow some videotapes, Jardin made advances on the schoolgirl and tried to seduce her. After being rebuffed, Jardin excused himself and went to the bathroom, where he had stashed two carving knives and a Ghostface costume popularised by the ‘90s horror cult classic Scream.

Jardin proceeded to stab Alisson 30 times before placing her body on his bed with a single red rose in her hand. He then called his father to confess what he had done. When questioned by police Jardin (who had no prior episodes of violence or criminal activity) claimed that he was inspired to murder after watching the movie.