The 911 call made by a cyclist who discovered a girl lying on the road after being attacked by her classmates in a disturbing tribute to the mythological internet character Slender Man has been released by police.
Two 12-year-old girls have been charged as adults with first-degree attempted murder after they allegedly lured their victim, who was also aged 12, into a wooded area in Milwaukee and stabbed her 19 times, police in Wisconsin said.
The girls had developed a fascination with the ‘Slender Man’ character (also known as Slenderman), after encountering the name on the Creepypasta Wiki website.
They allegedly began plotting the murder in February in order to appease the mythical demon-like character, who features in various horror stories and memes as a lanky man with a featureless face.
Authorities have now released the audio of the call made to emergency services by cyclist Greg Steinberg, who discovered the victim after she crawled out onto the road.
In it, he can be heard telling the operator: “She said she’s having trouble breathing. She said she was stabbed multiple times.”
The victim does not respond when Mr Steinberg asks: "Who did this to you?"
"I don't know if she wants to be talked to," he then tells the 911 dispatcher. He said the victim does not want to speak because she is “trying to save her energy”, adding: "she can take shallow breaths. She's alert."
He tells the operator her clothing has blood on it and explains he found her “right in the middle of the little path I take”.
The operator tells Mr Steinberg to “flag the squad car down and protect her” just before help arrives.
On Wednesday, the unidentified victim’s condition was upgraded from critical but stable to “fair”, a spokeswoman for Waukesha Memorial Hospital told the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal.
The defendants are believed to have invited the victim to a sleepover at one of their houses. Initially, they had planned to kill the victim while she was sleeping, but postponed their attack until the next day.
Police said one of the girls told detectives they were trying to become "proxies’’ of Slender Man. The other allegedly said she sees Slender Man in her dreams, and claims he can read her mind and teleport.
Anthony Cotton, a lawyer for one of the girls, said he pushing to have her case moved to juvenile court, where more social services and mental health treatment would be available.
"She's 12 and she has mental health issues," he said. "There's no question that she needs to go to the hospital." Bail has been set at $500,000 (£299,000) per child.
Additional reporting by agencies