Two Wisconsin girls charged with repeatedly stabbing a classmate to impress a mythical online character will be sent to state mental hospitals, according to the Associated Press. The case attracted national attention because of the youth of the victim and her attackers and the strangeness of their motive.
Morgan Geyser and Annissa Weier were just 12 years old in 2014 when they lured their classmate, Payton Leutner, also 12, into the woods in a Milwaukee suburb, according to investigators. Geyser, now 15, allegedly stabbed Leutner 19 times as Weier urged her on.
Both girls told detectives they were compelled to kill Leutner to become “proxies,” or servants to Slender Man — an online figure that is typically depicted as a spidery figure in a black suit with a featureless white face — so they could protect themselves and their families from the demon.
Leutner survived after crawling out of the woods, where a bicyclist found her and called 911. She was raced to the hospital, where her mother said she saw her daughter was “pale as a ghost” and “terrified.” The surgeon who operated on Leutner told ABC’s David Muir the knife had nearly penetrated her heart, but missed it by less than a millimeter.
For two days after the surgery, Leutner communicated using pen and paper since speaking hurt too much because of damage to her diaphragm.
One of the first things her parents said she asked once she could speak was whether police had found Geyser and Weier, they said on ABC‘s “20/20”.
“I remember everything,” Leutner told her mother.
Geyser, who allegedly led the attack, will plead guilty in a deal announced on Friday that will send her indefinitely to a state mental hospital, according to the AP. Weier pleaded guilty to a reduced charge last month and will face at least three years in a mental hospital.
“It’s been a tragic experience for everyone,” Geyser’s attorney, Donna Kuchler, said after a brief court hearing, according to the AP. “Our hearts go out to the victim and her family. And we’re very grateful that the district attorney’s office gave this case the considering it deserves.”
Kuchler could not be immediately reached by The Washington Post. The Leutner family said they had no comment about Friday’s hearing but plan to issue a statement on Thursday, when Geyser’s deal will be formalized at a plea hearing.
Growing up, Geyser and Leutner were close, spending all day together at school and calling each other as soon as they got home, Leutner’s mother told Muir.
She said that Geyser sometimes seemed controlling, but she thought it was a typical friendship for two preteen girls.
She never expected Geyser to turn violent, which she allegedly did following a slumber party, when police say Geyser and Weier took Leutner to a wooded park, where they distracted her with hide-and-seek. Then Weier allegedly said, “Go ballistic; go crazy.”
Geyser complied, and began repeatedly stabbing Leutner.
The deal calls for doctors to evaluate Geyser and report to a judge how long they believe she should remain in a state mental hospital. After the hearing, where Geyser appeared but did not speak, a judge allowed her to spend three hours with her family before going to the mental hospital, where she began receiving treatment, AP reported.
Geyser and Weier were both originally charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a possible sentence of up to 65 years in prison. Weier pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional homicide in a deal with prosecutors but claimed she was mentally ill during the attack and not responsible for her actions.
In an August hearing, she also said that the stabbing plot was Geyser’s idea and that she only participated because she was afraid what would happen if she did not.
“I believed that if I didn’t go through with it, Slender Man would come and attack and kill myself, my friends and my family. Those I cared about the most,” she said during the hearing.
Weier’s attorney, Maura McMahon, said Weier was lonely and depressed after her parents divorced and latched onto Geyser. Together, McMahon told the jury, the girls became obsessed with Slender Man, who Weier believed could read her mind, teleport and would kill her family if she talked about him.
“This sounds crazy, because it is,” McMahon told the jury, according to AP. “This was a real being to this child and she needed to protect those around her. At 12 years old, she had no way to protect herself from [Slender Man] except for Morgan’s advice and they swirled down into madness together.”
The jury determined that she was mentally ill at the time of the attack.
Her parents, Bill and Kristi Weier, during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” in January, said the whole experience has been “surreal.” Their daughter, they said, has expressed remorse about her role in the stabbing.
Neither the Weiers nor Geyser’s parents suspected that their daughters were capable of such violence.
Geyser’s mother, Angie Geyser, in an interview with Rolling Stone, recalled the morning when officers informed her about the stabbing. She said she had “no idea how serious it was” and thought it was likely “a game that went awry.”
“It never crossed our mind — not for a second — that Morgan would purposefully hurt someone,” she said.
In January, Leutner’s family released a picture of their daughter and a statement saying she is now thriving, taking advanced placement classes and joining a French club, according to WISN.
“There’s some normalcy after this horrific premeditated crime, and we’re just very proud of her,” Leutner family spokesman Steve Lyons said.