Over the weekend, two middle school girls attempted to murder their friend by luring her into a wooded area and stabbing her nineteen times, all in the name of a fictional horror meme known as Slenderman. It was calculated and planned out for months in advance.
This happened just a couple miles from my home, in an area I drive by frequently. My neighbors are good friends with the parents of one of girls, the one who saw the knife in her friend's waistband as they walked out to the woods and thought, "Dear God, this was really happening."
Obviously my community has been reeling, asking questions and scrambling to understand how something like this could happen anywhere, let alone in our own backyard. As more details have emerged, it has become more and more chilling.
When the news broke and started spreading like wildfire through our town, the accusations and speculations spread just as quickly and it has been heartbreaking to watch it go national as these three families deal with the horrific ramifications that will change their lives forever.
Thank God the victim survived. So many people are asking the obvious question - "Where is God in this? How could he allow something like this to happen?" I can't help but see the protecting hand of God in this because how else can you explain that the victim survived being stabbed nineteen times and yet the wounds came within a millimeter of severing a major artery that would have certainly ended her life? I refuse to believe that it was a coincidence that there was a bicyclist riding by that exact spot at that exact moment when she managed to drag herself from the woods. She lived. Praise God she lived.
The blame game is useless. Tragedies like this seem to always immediately prompt finger pointing. It's the fault of the parents, the Internet, video games, the media, violent music, and so on and so on. Is it important that parents are invested in the lives of their kids and are aware of what they are doing online? Yes, of course! Is it in the best interest of the kids to not play violent video games? You betcha! But nothing is a guarantee. If we have learned anything from the tragedies we have seen at Sandy Hook Elementary, Isla Vista, and Virginia Tech it is that evil can manifest itself in ways we could never imagine, including mental illness and even in the impressionable minds of children. Blame gets us nowhere.
It could happen here. We try to think that things like this won't happen to us, not in our town, not to our friends, not in our neighborhood. But they do. When I drove by the street where this crime took place on my way to the grocery store yesterday, I realized that one of "those incidents" totally just happened - in my HERE. It's disconcerting, no matter how you slice it.
The potential for this story to only get weirder and more heart-breaking is huge. For the national media, and for most of the good folks who read this, it will be little more than a flash in the pan, a mouse click easily forgotten about after a couple days.
But my neighbor's friendship might never recover because who knows if his friend will never forget the sight of his twelve year old daughter in handcuffs being tried as an adult for attempted murder. I don't even want to think about the circus that will accompany the trial for these girls. My heart breaks for the families of all three girls and I pray for a speedy recovery, both physically and mentally for the victim. I also pray that the accused might get the help that they need to understand the severity of their actions and to prepare them to accept the consequences. No, we are not done here. Not by a long shot. It's just horrible.
I pray for all of us in this broken world. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.