Slender Man stabbing
The Slender Man stabbing occurred on Saturday, May 31, 2014, in the American city of Waukesha in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, when 12-year-old Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser lured Payton Leutner, of the same age, into the woods and stabbed her 19 times in an attempt to impress the fictional character Slender Man. After being stabbed, the victim crawled to a road and lay on a sidewalk where a cyclist found her and called 9-1-1. She was rushed to a hospital, at which point she was "one millimeter away from certain death," according to a criminal complaint. The victim recovered after being hospitalized for six days. During the resultant trial, both perpetrators initially pled not guilty by reason of insanity; however, under a plea deal both of the girls changed their plea to guilty. Both were consequently found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and will serve at least three years in a mental hospital as part of the plea deal.
|Slender Man stabbing|
|Date||May 31, 2014|
|Perpetrators||Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser|
Slender Man is a fictional entity created for a 2009 Photoshop contest on Something Awful, an online forum, the goal of which was to create paranormal images. The Slender Man mythos was later expanded by a number of other people who created fan fiction and additional forged images depicting the entity.
Slender Man is depicted as a tall, faceless man in a black suit with tentacles growing out of his back. According to the Slender Man mythos, the entity can cause amnesia, bouts of coughing and paranoid behavior in individuals. He is often depicted hiding in forests or stalking children.
Lead-up to stabbingEdit
Both Weier and Geyser were 12 years old at the time of the stabbing, as was Leutner, the victim. All three were classmates enrolled in the same middle school and had been at a sleepover at one suspect's home the night before. The attackers had discovered the Slender Man on the Creepypasta Wiki, a website that hosts creepypasta. The two perpetrators said they believed Slender Man was real at the time, and wanted to prove their loyalty to him so they could become his "proxies", or followers, prove his existence, and prevent him from harming their families. The two believed that the only way they could become the Slender Man's proxies was to murder someone. They believed that after they carried out the killing, they would become servants of the Slender Man and be allowed to live in his mansion in Nicolet National Forest.
The two girls targeted a mutual friend; reports indicate they initially planned to carry out the attack on May 31, 2014 at 2:00 AM, when the victim would be sleeping over to celebrate the birthday of one of the other girls. They planned to duct tape the victim's mouth, stab her in the neck with a kitchen knife, and flee. They did not carry out the attack at that time, however, since one of the girls is believed to have delayed the attack until the next day; she claimed that she desired to give the victim one more day to live.
The two planned to carry out the attack Saturday morning in a bathroom at a local park; instead, they chose to carry out the attack in a nearby forest while playing a game of hide-and-seek. During the game, one of the perpetrators pinned the victim down, but there was a dispute about who would carry out the stabbing. According to allegations published in Newsweek, the perpetrator who had pinned the victim down ordered the other supposed perpetrator to carry out the attack. She is reported to have complied and stabbed the victim 19 times in the arms, legs, and torso with a five-inch-long kitchen knife. Two of the stab wounds were to major arteries. One of the two stab wounds missed her heart by less than a millimeter and the other went through her diaphragm, cutting into her liver and stomach. Immediately following the attack, the two attackers told the still-conscious victim to be quiet and that they would get help for her. However, they fled shortly after.
After the stabbing, the victim dragged her way out of the forest to a ditch at the side of a nearby road. She was discovered by a cyclist, who called 9-1-1 to get medical assistance for the victim. The victim reportedly said "Please help me. I've been stabbed" to gain the attention of the cyclist. The criminal complaint stated that the victim was in extreme pain and could only answer yes or no questions. The Waukesha Fire Department and Police Department responded to the call and located the victim, who gave law enforcement the name of one of her attackers. The victim was transported to a hospital, where she underwent surgery. Of the 19 stab wounds, two were to major organs, with one wound missing a major artery by "less than a millimeter". The victim was injured in what is commonly known as the "cardiac box," an area that includes the aorta and lungs; patients wounded in the "cardiac box" typically have a 25 to 50 percent mortality rate. A criminal complaint filed shortly after the stabbing described Leutner as being "one millimeter away from certain death".
Law enforcement conducted a mass search for the two suspects. Agencies that participated in the search included the police departments of the city of Waukesha, Waukesha County, New Berlin and Brookfield, as well as the Waukesha Fire Department and Flight for Life emergency helicopter services. The two girls were apprehended near Interstate 94 by a Waukesha County sheriff's deputy. The officer discovered the knife used in the stabbing in a bag carried by one of the suspects. After being arrested, the girls reportedly expressed ambivalent views about the attack. They were described as feeling guilty for stabbing their friend, but felt that the attack was needed to appease Slender Man.
The victim was discharged from the hospital six days after the attack, although she continued to have physical difficulties for several weeks after that. She received thousands of letters of support from well-wishers around the world. The victim ultimately healed from her injuries, and was able to resume school in fall of 2014.
Investigation and court proceduresEdit
In August 2014, one girl was ruled incompetent to stand trial. She had been diagnosed by state psychiatrists with childhood onset schizophrenia and oppositional defiant disorder. Her father is also schizophrenic. She was remanded to Winnebago Mental Health Institute. In December 2014, both girls were ruled competent to stand trial; the ruling says that one of the two girls refused to take her prescribed schizophrenia medication.
The girls have been charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide. They have been set to be tried as adults because Wisconsin law states, "all murder and attempted-murder charges for children older than 10 start in adult court." A conviction on first-degree charges in adult court could result in a sentence of up to 45 years in state prison, whereas a conviction in juvenile court could lead to three years incarceration, then supervision until the age of 18. Bail was set at $500,000 each.
In February 2015, both of the accused were interrogated by local police. Each claimed that the other had come up with the plan to murder their friend. One of the two also reiterated the belief that Slender Man would harm her and her family if they did not carry out the attack. Later that month, Anthony Cotton, an attorney for one of the two girls, filed a brief contending that his client should not have been charged with attempted first-degree homicide. The brief claims that the correct charge should be attempted second-degree homicide because the girl believed Slender Man would have hurt her and her family if she hadn't killed on his behalf. In March 2015, the judge disagreed with this argument, ruling to keep the two in adult court. Their cases could still have been moved to juvenile court for other reasons during hearings in May and June 2015, but on August 10, a judge ruled that both teenagers would be tried in adult court. On August 21, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren entered a "not guilty" plea on behalf of both girls after their attorneys declined to enter pleas. On September 30, 2015, Judge Bohren stayed the case against the two girls so that a state appeals court could determine whether they should be tried in adult or juvenile court. The appeals court decision was initially scheduled to be made in January 2016, but was pushed back until April of that year due to an extension requested by the state of Wisconsin and the attorney of one of the accused.
In December 2015, the girl found incompetent to stand trial was remanded to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute again by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals for treatment. She remained there until March 2016, when doctors determined that her condition had stabilized.
On July 27, 2016, the Wisconsin District II Court of Appeals upheld the Waukesha County Circuit Court's decision to try the accused as adults, per Wisconsin statute. The girls are allowed to appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court if they want to be tried in a juvenile court. The attorneys for the accused say that one of the girls has oppositional defiant disorder and schizophrenia, while the other has schizotypy and a delusional disorder, thus rendering adult court unnecessary. The court, however, ruled that the stabbing was not accidental or impulsive, but premeditated and "extremely violent".
On August 26, 2016, one of the two girls entered a plea of "not guilty" by reason of "mental disease or defect". Two psychiatrists were appointed by the judge to examine her; they were to turn in a report as to the mental status of the accused by October 6, 2016. The trial date was tentatively rescheduled for March, 2017.
On September 1, 2016, the second girl followed suit, pleading "not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect". The hearing for the plea was set for September 6, 2016. On the same day, the girls' attorneys filed a brief arguing that a "non-Waukesha County jury should be impaneled" because of heavy media coverage of the trial. The defense argued, "While change of venue might be appropriate in the case of an adult defendant, it would create significant hardships for a child defendant."
On September 9, 2016, one of the girls' attorneys said that she would stop trying to move the case to a juvenile court.
On October 4, 2016, one of the psychiatrists appointed to examine the girls regarding their mental state was dismissed, and a new one was appointed. The stated reason for the dismissal was that the psychiatrist submitted two reports on the same day that provided two different conclusions. The presiding judge in the case, Michael Bohren, stated that the wrong charge was stated in the first report; consequently, Pareek thought that Bohren wanted the report to read differently and therefore substantially altered the content of the second report. Bohren said, "The case has been pending for over 2 years. Time is relative. But, it's good to keep the case moving if the court can. I'm satisfied that the court should appoint a new doctor and have a new report come in." The reports on the perpetrators' mental health were due on November 11, 2016.
On October 10, 2016, both of the girls' attorneys filed motions to have the girls' trials run separately, instead of jointly. The defense asserts that conducting a joint trial would harm the impartiality of the decision because the jurors would be confused by the testimony of the girls, each of which implicated the other as the main perpetrator of the attack. On the same day, one of the accused's attorneys filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained by police in the hours after her client was arrested. The motion stated that the accused's statements were not fully voluntary because of the alleged assailants's mental state, age, and a delayed and improper reading of her Miranda rights.
On November 11, 2016, the presiding judge sealed the reports from four psychologists appointed for the case. No summary of the content of the reports has been released; the tentative trial date was again pushed back to June or July, 2017.
On December 12, 2016, the judge ordered separate trials after both the prosecution and the defense agreed it was legally advisable. The next hearing in the case was scheduled for December 22, 2016, regarding the defense motion to suppress statements she made to police at the time of her arrest.
On December 22, 2016, a hearing was held to determine the validity of the confession made by one of the defendants directly after her arrest. The defense argued that the alleged perpetrator was too young to fully understand her right to remain silent. On February 14, 2017, the presiding judge deemed the confession admissible and also denied the defense's request to move the trial out of Waukesha County. The separate trials were scheduled for September and October, 2017.
On August 21, 2017, one of the girls, the now-15-year-old Anissa Weier, pleaded guilty to being a party to attempted second-degree homicide, but claimed she was not responsible for her actions on grounds of insanity. Although prosecutors alleged that she knew that what she was doing was wrong, the jury on September 15, 2017 determined that she was "not guilty by mental disease or defect", and will serve a minimum of three years in a mental hospital. The trial for the second girl is scheduled to begin on October 9.
On September 29, 2017, the second girl, Morgan Geyser, arranged a plea deal with prosecutors. As part of the deal, Geyser will not go to trial and will be evaluated by psychiatrists to determine how long she should be placed in a mental hospital. According to one source she would be required to spend at least three more years in the hospital. On October 7, 2017, she pleaded guilty and was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. The psychiatric evaluation will begin in November with a determination made in December.
At Horning Middle School, which the victim and two assailants attended, the stabbing was not initially discussed by staff when classes resumed from the weekend on Monday, June 2, because the Waukesha Police Department had not confirmed that the perpetrators were students there. This decision was criticized by a number of students and parents. On Wednesday, June 4, three links were posted to the school website to address the stabbing. One of the links led to a letter written by Principal Chris Wegner which outlined the school district's response to the attack. The other two links provided came from the Mayo Clinic and the Department of Health and Human Services. Both of these links provided information on discussing traumatic events with children.
Wegner, in an interview with ABC News, said that the assailants and the victim appeared to be friends and that the girls had not had any disciplinary issues before the stabbing. Wegner also stated that he and the staff of Horning Middle School cared for the accused girls and hoped that they would receive the help they needed.
|Announcement video for the Creepypasta live stream|
On the Tuesday following the stabbing, a statement from the creator of the Slender Man was posted to the Creepypasta Wiki expressing condolences for all those involved. Sloshedtrain, the administrator of the Creepypasta Wiki, said that the stabbing was an isolated incident that did not accurately represent the creepypasta community. He also stated that the Creepypasta Wiki was a literary website and that they did not condone murder or satanic rituals.
Members of the creepypasta community held a 24-hour live stream on YouTube from June 13 to 14, 2014, to raise money for the stabbing victim. Joe Jozwowski, an administrator on a creepypasta website, said the purpose of the stream was to show that members of the community wanted to help the victim and to demonstrate that they were not horrible people just because they liked scary stories.
On August 12, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued a proclamation declaring Wednesday, August 13, 2015 "Purple Hearts for Healing Day" and encouraged the people of Wisconsin to wear purple on that day to honor the victim of the stabbing. He also praised the "strength and determination" exhibited by the victim during her recovery.
The city of Madison, Wisconsin held a one-day bratwurst festival to honor the victim on August 29, several days before the victim returned to school. Hot dogs and bratwurst were sold to raise money towards the victim's medical costs. The event was run by over 250 volunteers, and raised over $70,000 for the victim.
Debate on the impact of the Internet on childrenEdit
The stabbing resulted in extensive debate about the role of the Internet in society and its impact on children. Russell Jack, Waukesha Police Chief, said that the stabbing "should be a wake-up call for all parents", adding that the Internet "is full of information and wonderful sites that teach and entertain", but that it "can also be full of dark and wicked things". John Egelhof, a retired agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, argued that the Internet had become a "blackhole" with the ability to expose children to a more sinister world. He suggested that the best way to avoid future incidents was for parents to keep track of their children's web habits and to educate them on the differences between right and wrong. Shira Chess, an assistant professor of mass media arts at the University of Georgia, stated that creepypasta was no more dangerous than stories about vampires or zombies. She argued that creepypasta websites were beneficial, and that they gave people the opportunity to become better writers.
Max Rodgers, Utah's Director of Netsmartz, an internet safety and advocacy program, argued that students often have difficulty differentiating between the real and online world, and that events such as the Waukesha stabbing occur when these two worlds intersect. Jacqueline Woolley, director of the Children's Research Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, indicated that children were actually capable of distinguishing fiction from reality and that they were fully developed in this capacity by the age of nine.
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