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On May 31, 2014, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, 12-year-olds Anissa E. Weier and Morgan E. Geyser[2] lured their friend Payton Leutner into the woods and stabbed her 19 times in an attempt to impress the fictional character Slender Man. Leutner crawled to a road where she was found; she recovered after six days in the hospital. Weier and Geyser were found not guilty by mental disease or defect and, by February 2018, convicted and sentenced to long periods in mental health institutions.

Slender Man stabbing
Slender Man stabbing is located in Wisconsin
Slender Man stabbing
Waukesha, Wisconsin[1]
LocationWaukesha, Wisconsin
Coordinates42°58′53″N 88°13′26″W / 42.9814°N 88.2239°W / 42.9814; -88.2239Coordinates: 42°58′53″N 88°13′26″W / 42.9814°N 88.2239°W / 42.9814; -88.2239
DateMay 31, 2014 (2014-05-31)
Attack type
Stabbing
WeaponsKnife
Injuries
1
VictimsPayton Leutner
PerpetratorsAnissa Weier and Morgan Geyser

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Slender Man is a fictional entity created on the online forum Something Awful for a 2009 Photoshop paranormal image contest.[3] The Slender Man mythos was later expanded by a number of other people who created fan fiction and additional artistic depictions of the entity.[4]

Slender Man is a tall, thin character, with a featureless white face and head. He is depicted as wearing a black suit, and is sometimes shown 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.[4]

Weier, Geyser, and Leutner were all 12 years old at the time of the stabbing, and were classmates enrolled in the same school. Their principal later said that neither had any disciplinary issues.[5] They had been at a sleepover together the night before the stabbing.[6] The attackers had discovered Slender Man on the Creepypasta Wiki, a website that hosts creepypasta. They later said they had believed Slender Man to be real, and had wanted to prove their loyalty to him so they could become his "proxies", prove his existence, and prevent him from harming their families; they believed that the only way to do this would be to kill someone,[4] after which they would become servants of the Slender Man and live in his mansion, which they thought was located in Nicolet National Forest.[7]

AttackEdit

Weier and Geyser initially planned to attack Leutner on May 30, 2014. They planned to tape the victim's mouth shut and stab her in the neck and flee. They did not carry out that attack; Geyser is believed to have wanted to give Leutner one more day to live.[4] A second plan called for attacking Leutner in a bathroom at a local park, choosing the location for the fact that the bathroom had drains for Leutner's blood.[4][8]

The actual attack took place in a nearby forest during a game of hide-and-seek on May 31, 2014. Leutner was pinned down and stabbed 19 times in the arms, legs, and torso with a five-inch-long (13 cm) kitchen knife. Two wounds were to major organs, one missed her heart by less than a millimeter, and another went through her diaphragm, cutting into her liver and stomach.[9] Weier and Geyser then told Leutner they would get help for her, but instead simply left.[4] Leutner dragged herself to a nearby road where she was found by a cyclist, Greg Steinberg.[10]

Weier and Geyser were apprehended near Interstate 94.[11] The knife used in the stabbing was in a bag they carried. Weier and Geyser were described as feeling guilty for stabbing their friend, but felt that the attack was needed to appease Slender Man.[4]

Leutner left the hospital 7 days after the attack.[12] She returned to school in September 2014.[9][13]

SentencingEdit

In 2017, Weier pleaded guilty to being a party to attempted second-degree homicide;[14] a jury then found her "not guilty by mental disease or defect".[15][16] Geyser accepted a plea offer under which she would not go to trial and would be evaluated by psychiatrists to determine how long she should be placed in a mental hospital.[17] She later pleaded guilty and was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.[18][19]

Anissa Weier was sentenced to 25-years-to-life, an indeterminate sentence involving at least three years locked confinement and involuntary treatment in a state psychiatric institute, followed by communal supervision until age 37.[20][21]

Her accomplice, Morgan Geyser, was sentenced to the maximum 40-years-to-life, an indeterminate sentence involving at least three years locked confinement, in addition to involuntary treatment in a state psychiatric institute until complete resolution of symptoms or until age 53, whichever may happen first; followed by continued communal supervision, periodic reevaluations and/or reinstitution and further treatment as-needed as required by the sentence imposed.[22][23]

In 2018, a Wisconsin judge sentenced Weier to 40 years under mental health facility's supervision. While Geyser will periodically have the opportunity to petition for her release from a mental health facility in the future, she will remain under institutional care for the duration of the sentence. During her trial, Geyser had been committed to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute and was the youngest patient there.[24]

ReactionsEdit

External video
  Announcement video for the Creepypasta live stream[25]

In the aftermath of the stabbing, the Creepypasta Wiki was blocked throughout the Waukesha School District.[26] On the Tuesday following the stabbing, Slender Man creator Eric Knudsen said: "I am deeply saddened by the tragedy in Wisconsin and my heart goes out to the families of those affected by this terrible act".[27] Sloshedtrain, the administrator of the Creepypasta Wiki,[28] 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.[29][30]

Members of the creepypasta community held a 24-hour live stream on YouTube June 13–14, 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 cared for the victim and did not condone real-world violence because they enjoyed fiction that contains violence.[31]

On August 12, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued a proclamation declaring Wednesday, August 13, 2014, "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.[32]

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.[13]

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.[33] 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".[4] 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.[34] 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.[34] 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.[28]

MediaEdit

A documentary film on the incident called Beware the Slenderman was released by HBO Films in March 2016, and was broadcast on HBO on January 23, 2017.[35]

A season 16 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, titled "Glasgowman's Wrath", is loosely based on the event.[36] The Criminal Minds episode "The Tall Man" (Episode 14.05, airdate October 31, 2018) was also inspired by this story.[37]

On October 14, 2018, a movie inspired by the Slender Man stabbing called Terror in the Woods aired on Lifetime. The film stars Ella West Jerrier, Sophia Grace McCarthy, Skylar Morgan Jones, Angela Kinsey, Drew Powell, and Carrie Hood. Christina Ricci serves as the executive producer of the film.[38][39]

On March 31, 2019, another movie inspired by the Slender Man stabbing titled Mercy Black, starring Daniela Pineda, was released to Netflix with no prior announcement. Directed by Owen Egerton and produced primarily by Blumhouse Productions, it tells the story of two girls with pre-schizophrenia who attempt to murder their friend, believing that a spirit named Mercy Black will offer them a gift in return. Later, the protagonist is released from psychiatric care, and has to deal with the realistic and paranormal consequences of her actions.

Also seeEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Gabler, Ellen (June 2, 2014). "Charges detail Waukesha pre-teens' attempt to kill classmate". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  2. ^ STATE OF WISCONSIN vs Morgan E Geyser; Anissa E Weier (2014)
  3. ^ Chess, Shira (April 1, 2012). "Open-Sourcing Horror". Information, Communication & Society. London, England: Routledge. 15 (3): 374–375. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2011.642889. ISSN 1369-118X.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Jones, Abigail (August 22, 2014). "The Girls Who Tried to Kill for Slender Man". Newsweek. New York City: IBT Media/Newsweek Media Group. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  5. ^ Palladino, Christina (June 5, 2014). "Principal says stabbing suspects were good students, no history of bad behavior". ABC Wisconsin. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  6. ^ Hanna, Jason (June 3, 2014). "12 year-old Wisconsin girl stabbed 19 times; friends arrested". CNN. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  7. ^ Fieldstadt, Elisha (February 22, 2015). "'Slender Man' Stabbing Suspects Blamed Each Other in Interrogations". NBC News. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  8. ^ ABC News (September 27, 2014), Slender Man Stabbing Survivor's Remarkable Recovery | Nightline | ABC News, retrieved February 11, 2019
  9. ^ a b Effron, Lauren (September 26, 2014). "Slender Man stabbing survivor's parents: 'She's Meant to Do Something Special'". ABC News. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  10. ^ Davey, Monica; Yaccino, Steven (June 7, 2014). "Milwaukee Suburb Tries to Cope With Girl's Stabbing". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  11. ^ Kuhagen, Christopher (June 2, 2014). "Waukesha stabbing sends chills even through police". Waukesha Now. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Now News Group. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  12. ^ Suarez, Alexandra (September 9, 2016). "Slender Man Stabbing Update: Is Anissa Weier Insane?". International Business Times. New York City: IBT Media/Newsweek Media Group. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Robinson, Kelley (September 3, 2014). "'Slender Man' Stabbing Survivor Returns to School". ABC News. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  14. ^ "Slender Man stabbing suspect pleads guilty to lesser charge". CBS News. August 21, 2017. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
  15. ^ "Slender Man stabbing: Anissa Weier found mentally ill". BBC News. September 15, 2017.
  16. ^ "Jury in Slender Man case finds Anissa Weier was mentally ill, will not go to prison". WISN-TV12 ABC News Milwaukee. September 16, 2017.
  17. ^ "Wisconsin girl reaches plea deal in Slender Man case". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. Associated Press. September 29, 2017. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  18. ^ Andone, Dakin; Levin, Paige (October 7, 2017). "Teen in 'Slenderman' stabbing going to mental institution under plea deal". CNN. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  19. ^ "Prosecutors seek 40 years in mental hospital for Morgan Geyser in Slenderman attack". WITI. Shorewood, Wisconsin. October 5, 2017. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  20. ^ "Girl convicted in Slender Man stabbing sentenced". WMTV. December 21, 2017. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  21. ^ "'Slenderman' stabbing: Teen committed to mental institution". CNN. December 21, 2017. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  22. ^ Robinson, Kelley (February 1, 2018). "2nd teen in 'Slender Man' stabbing case to remain in institutional care for 40 years". ABC News. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  23. ^ Moreno, Ivan (February 1, 2018). "Girl in Slender Man stabbing gets maximum mental commitment". Associated Press. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  24. ^ "2nd teen in 'Slender Man' stabbing case to remain in institutional care for 40 years". ABC News. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  25. ^ "Narrators uNIGHTed". Mr. Creepypasta. June 4, 2014. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  26. ^ Palladino, Christina (June 5, 2014). "Principal says stabbing suspects were good students, no history of bad behavior". ABC Wisconsin. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  27. ^ "Slenderman Creator 'Saddened' by Stabbing". The New York Times. The Associated Press. June 4, 2014.[failed verification]
  28. ^ a b Manjoo, Farhad (July 10, 2014). "Urban Legends Told Online". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  29. ^ Collette, Miranda (June 5, 2014). "'Slender Man,' online viewing can haunt kids". Salt Lake City: Deseret Morning News. Archived from the original on March 19, 2018 – via HighBeam Research. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  30. ^ Collette, Miranda (June 4, 2014). "What parents need to know about 'Slender Man' and online viewing". Deseret News Publishing Company. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  31. ^ Sanchick, Myra (June 13, 2014). "CreepyPasta narrators organize to raise money for stabbing victim". fox6now.com. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  32. ^ "Governor Scott Walker Issues Proclamation Declaring 'Purple Hearts for Healing Day' in Honor of Waukesha Girl". Office of the Governor (Press release). Archived from the original on October 15, 2015. Retrieved October 18, 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  33. ^ Maddox, Jessica (2017). "Of Internet born: idolatry, the Slender Man meme, and the feminization of digital spaces". Feminist Media Studies. 18 (2): 235–248. doi:10.1080/14680777.2017.1300179.
  34. ^ a b Tillotson, Kristin (June 6, 2014). "How kids fall into the Internet's 'black hole'". News. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Star Tribune. p. 2OP.
  35. ^ DePaoliStaff, Tommy. "Slenderman Is Coming to HBO In A True-Crime Documentary". Movie Pilot. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  36. ^ Bodkin, Bill (November 6, 2014). "Review: Law & Order: SVU, 'Glasgowman's Wrath'". The Pop Break. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  37. ^ Niles, Angela. "Criminal Minds – The Tall Man – Review: 'Ghosts'". SpoilerTV. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  38. ^ "Lifetime Sets Movies With Bella Thorne, Shannen Doherty, Mira Sorvino & More". Flickering Myth. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
  39. ^ "Exclusive Interview – Actress Sophie Grace talks Terror in the Woods and Slender Man". Flickering Myth. Retrieved October 14, 2018.

Further readingEdit