Saturday, October 7, 2017

"Slender Man" Case Finally Over

One of the things you learn pretty quickly trying to cover court cases is that the darn things move really slowly. Back in June of 2014, I covered the case of two Wisconsin girls charged with stabbing a classmate in order to appease Slender Man, a fictional character from a series of online horror stories. The girls were twelve years old at the time of the attack. A preliminary hearing was held eight months later, in February of 2015, and the case finally moved forward eighteen months after that, in August of 2016.

Now, finally, the case appears to be wrapping up, more than three years after the original attack. Morgan Geyser, the instigator of the attack, has reached a deal with prosecutors in which she will plead guilty in exchange for being committed to a mental hospital rather than being sent to prison. Her co-defendant Anissa Weier was already found to be mentally ill at the time of the attack, and was sentenced to at least three years of treatment.

The deal calls for doctors to evaluate 15-year-old Morgan Geyser and report to a judge to determine how long she should remain in a state mental hospital. Geyser's co-defendant, Anissa Weier, faces at least three years in a mental hospital after a jury this month determined she was mentally ill at the time of the attack on classmate Payton Leutner. All three girls were 12 at the time.

"It's been a tragic experience for everyone," Geyser's attorney, Donna Kuchler, said after the brief court hearing. "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."

Weier and Geyser lured Leutner into the woods at a park in Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb. Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times while Weier urged her on, according to investigators. Leutner survived after she crawled out of the woods to a path where a passing bicyclist found her. Both Weier and Geyser told detectives they felt they had to kill Leutner to become Slender Man's "proxies," or servants, and protect their families from him.

This case was a weird one from the beginning, and not just because of the "Slender Man" angle. Leutner survived the attack, and usually kids charged with attempted murder are not tried as adults. The decision to do so anyway probably had to do more with the media attention the case garnered than with the crime itself. And this probably is the right verdict - no person in their right mind thinks that a made-up character from online horror stories is going to come after them, as these two girls believed.

Geyser will be confined and faces mental health evaluation, and the reality is that if she's genuinely dangerous she's going to stay locked up. But if she recovers following treatment, she has a better chance of getting out as an adult than she would have if she were sentenced to a long term in an adult prison. Whatever happens there, like Slender Man himself, I imagine that this story will have a long life as a horror tale in its own right on the Internet.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: