A 14-year-old girl was charged Thursday with arson and two counts of attempted murder following an overnight fire at her Port Richey home.
Detectives said the fire may have been tied to the mythological “Slenderman” character authorities said inspired a recent Wisconsin stabbing.
The fire occurred about 1:45 a.m. Thursday at a home on Hermitage Lane, according to Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.
The girl's mother and 9-year-old brother were awakened by a smoke alarm and escaped, deputies said. Heavy smoke and flames were coming from the home when firefighters arrived.
The mother and brother told firefighters that the 14-year-old was missing, deputies said. A search of the home turned up nothing.
At one point, the mother began receiving text messages from her daughter saying "Mom I'm so sorry I don't know why I did it" and "did any of u get hurt."
The teen was eventually located and taken into custody.
During questioning, the girl admitted to setting the fire on purpose following a family argument the night before, according to a sheriff's statement.
The teen also admitted to visiting sites including Creepypasta.com that detectives said are related to Slenderman character. She also said she was reading an online book called Soul Eater, which made her upset about past bullying and her mother disciplining her before bed.
According to detectives, the girl said she started the fire in the garage using a mixture of bleach and rum on a towel and bed sheet.
She ran off to a park after starting the fire and made no attempt to help her family, detectives said.
Investigators found a handwritten journal belonging to the teen. According to deputies, it included thoughts of killing and the statement "if this keeps up there will be no safety in this house."
In another entry, deputies said, she wrote "mom if you ever find this before it happens I'm sorry."
Detectives said they have no direct evidence the websites had an influence on the girl, but point out that she told them she visited the sites regularly.
The Slenderman is a fictional character. The strange paranormal creature is often described as unusually tall, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black tie. He has long, thin arms and legs, and his face is completely blank.
The fictional character can stretch or shorten his arms at will and has tentacle-like appendages protruding from his back.
In June, two 12-year-old southeastern Wisconsin girls nearly stabbed their 12-year-old friend to death in the woods to please Slenderman, according to prosecutors.
Both girls were charged as adults with first-degree attempted homicide.
According to a criminal complaint, the girls had been planning to kill their friend for months and finally made the attempt in a park after a slumber party.