September 14, 2021
On May 31, 2014, two twelve-year-old girls led their friend and classmate into the woods and stabbed her a total of 19 times in a sacrifice to a fictional character named Slenderman.
Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser invited Payton Leutner to a slumber party for Geyser’s birthday and lured her out to David's Park in Waukesha, Wisconsin, under the pretence that they were going to play a game of hide-and-seek. Once there, Weier and Geyser pinned Payton to the ground. Geyser produced a knife that she had been concealing in the waistband of her trousers and began stabbing Payton multiple times all over her body. Weier, who told Geyser that she was unable to partake in the stabbing, stood by, motivating Geyser, shouting “go berserk!”
The attackers then fled the scene, leaving Payton alone with only the false promise that they would return with help.
The victim’s liver and stomach were punctured during the attack and the knife missed a major artery of Paton’s heart by just a fraction a millimetre. Her attackers left her for dead in the woods as a gift to Slenderman, whom they believed would accept their sacrifice and allow them to live with him in a mansion in a forest hundreds of miles from Waukesha. The girls had spent a lot of time reading Slenderman Creepypasta stories online and believed the character was real. Slenderman was a product of the mind of Eric Knudsen, known online as Victor Surge, who created the character as a submission to the Something Awful forum for a paranormal image contest where users were told to manipulate photographs using photoshop to create creepy images. The Slenderman lore gained a life of its own with others photoshopping him into images and fake newspaper clippings pertaining to the impossibly tall figure with the blank face and tentacles standing amongst trees in forests, stalking children.
Although haemorrhaging, badly injured and in shock, Payton Leutner managed to drag herself to the nearest roadside where a passing cyclist noticed her and raised the alarm. Leutner was rushed to hospital where she remained for a week undergoing major surgeries and recovering from her injuries. Four months later she would return to school.
Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser were found by police walking near interstate 94, almost five miles from the scene of the attack. The girls still had the murder weapon, a five-inch knife that they were carrying in a backpack. The girls showed little regret for their actions when confronted by police, explaining that the brutal attack was necessary as it was a sacrifice to Slenderman.
They admitted that the attack was premeditated and that they had been planning it for months. Initially they planned to attack Leutner at the slumber party, however, decided they would do it the following day at the park. They considered stabbing her to death in a public bathroom located in the park before changing their minds and attacking their victim out in the open.
Morgan Geyser was charged with attempted first-degree homicide and Anissa Weier with was charged with attempted second-degree homicide and although both girls were 12 years old at the time of the attack, they were set to be tried as adults. Both girls were found not guilty by mental disease or defect and were ordered to be evaluated and placed in mental health facilities. It was offered that the girls were suffering a shared delusion, or folie à deux, a rare and unusual mental disorder where two or more individuals share a delusion or belief. According to doctors’ statements it is believed Weier suffered a shared delusion along with Geyser and that the girls believed if they did not kill Leutner their families would be at risk of harm.
Weier was given 25 years to life with a minimum of three years confinement and treatment in a mental health facility as well as communal supervision and monitoring for the remainder of the sentence.
In court she said: “I deeply regret everything that happened that day. I know nothing I say is going to make this right, nothing I say is going to fix what I broke. I’ll do whatever I have to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Geyser was sentenced to 40 years to life as well as minimum of three years confinement and treatment in a mental health facility and communal supervision and monitoring until her symptoms dissipated or indefinitely. She was also diagnosed with schizophrenia, which was discovered to run in her family.
Weier, 19, who has spent the last four years at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Oshkosh, where she was the youngest patient, was released from the facility on Monday, September 13, after a successful petition for conditional release.
In a letter to the court, she wrote: "I am not saying I’m done with my treatment; I am saying that I have exhausted all the resources available to me at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute. If I am to become a productive member of society, I need to be part of society. "I hate my actions on May 31, but through countless hours of therapy I no longer hate myself for them. I have forgiven myself for my participations in those events, and I ask that anyone affected forgive me as well. I have learned that forgiveness is a process of healing that helps release the pain of the past. I no longer want to be a source of pain in my community, and that is why I ask for forgiveness.”
Weier will live with her father and will be monitored by GPS. Her internet access will also be monitored. She will also be assigned case managers through the state's Department of Health Services and will be provided services until the age of 37.
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