Three 12 year-old girls went out into a forest, where two of them planned on stabbing the third on the orders of a mysterious, shadowy fantasy character. It sounds like the plot to an M. Night Shyamalan thriller, but it's real life. Now, the first of the Slender Man stabbing case's verdicts is in. Annissa Weier, who stood by and encouraged her friend Morgan Geyser to repeatedly and nearly fatally stab their friend and classmate Payton Leutner, pleaded guilty to being a party to attempted second-degree homicide but claimed that she did not have control over her actions because she was mentally ill when they took place.
Instead of going to prison, Weier was sentenced to 25 years in a mental hospital, beginning on the day of the crime. Weier will thus be institutionalized until she is 37 years old, the maximum amount of time that the judge could have given her.
“I do hold myself accountable for this and that I will do whatever I have to do to make sure I don’t get any sort of delusion or whatever again,” Weier said before her sentencing, according to the AP. “I want everybody involved to know I deeply regret everything that happened that day. I know that nothing I say is going to make this right and nothing I say is going to fix what I broke.”
Slender Man is an internet fantasy character who shows up in creepy pictures of children playing. In the stories, children's deaths often follow his appearance. Among internet horror fans, his image and the resulting stories captivated people with how he managed to look like "like a predator and a man, all at the same time," according to one user of the message board where "Slendy" originally appeared, interviewed in The Guardian.
Slender Man, Geyser and Weier believed, wanted them to kill someone so that they could become his "proxies," or servants — otherwise he would harm their families. Their plan was to lure Leutner into the woods in their hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin and then run away to a park in the northern part of the state, where they believed Slender Man would be waiting to welcome them into his mansion. So after a sleepover, they packed up their bags and headed to the woods for what they told Leutner would be a game of hide and seek — and then Geyser pulled out the kitchen knife she was carrying.
Geyser proceeded to stab Leutner 19 times, and they told Leutner to lay down and wait while they went to get help, saying that she would lose blood more slowly if she was laying down. They left without intending to get help and Leutner managed to make her way to a nearby road, where a cyclist found her and called 911. She recovered — but it was a close call.
“She will struggle with the events of that day and physical and emotional scars it left for the rest of her life,” wrote Stacie Leutner, her mother. She called for the maximum sentence to be brought down upon Weier and Geyser, because her daughter “deserves to be allowed to heal in an environment where she feels safe.” Payton, who goes by the name Bella, reportedly sleeps with the door and the windows of her bedroom locked and kept scissors under her pillow for months.
Weier, it appears, still suffers from some of the delusions that the court ruled to be behind her involvement in the crime. Geyser will likely face 40 years in a mental institution after pleading guilty to first-degree intentional homicide, with an accompanying agreement that a mental illness kept her from being criminally responsible. Further observation into her behavior has led to a diagnoses of the very rare early onset schizophrenia, which runs in her family. All of this, however, "pales in comparison" with the victim's suffering and her road to healing, according to Assistant District Attorney Kevin Osborne as reported in CBS News. "Payton has a lifetime of healing ahead of her," wrote Leutner's mother.