Slender Man Victim Sends Chilling Warning To Girls In Toxic Friendships
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Five years since being stabbed as a 12-year-old in a frenzied attack by her two best friends, Payton Leutner said it's "time for people to see my side".
Leutner, now 17, told 20/20 host David Muir she wanted young people to "get out" of suspicious relationships before something bad might happen.
"If you feel something is bad, you need to get out while you still can," Leutner said.
In May 2014, Leutner's friends, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, lured her into the Waukesha, Wisconsin woods the morning after their sleepover, stabbing her 19 times. One wound missed her heart by less than a millimetre.
After the girls fled, Leutner walked herself to the nearest road where she was found by a passing cyclist.
Geyser and Weier told detectives their frenzied attack was to appease a fictional horror character named Slender Man, who kills children.
Geyser was sentenced to 40 years for attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and Weier was sentenced to 25 years in a mental health facility.
During the 20/20 special, Geyser can be heard on tape telling detectives the girls were clear on what their mission was when they stabbed Leutner.
"I might as well say it. We were trying to kill her," Geyser said.
The morning after their slumber party, the girls tricked Leutner into thinking they were playing hide and seek in the woods.
"Anissa told me to lie on the ground, and cover myself in sticks and leaves, but it was really just a trick," Leutner said.
After encouraging each other to "go ballistic" and stab their victim repeatedly, the girls then told Leutner they would go and find her help. During their individual interrogations, they acknowledged that was a lie.
"They told her they were going to get her help but Anissa flat out said, 'No, we weren't getting help. We wanted her to die'," detective Michelle Trussoni said.
When asked if Geyser's chilling persona during her interrogations was familiar, Leutner's mother Stacie said "definitely not".
"She was the Morgan I was starting to see coming out, but if I think back to earlier in their friendship, definitely not," she said.
Geyser and Weier learned about the popular Slender Man character via Creepypasta Wiki, an Internet collection of horror stories and legends.
The idea of Slender Man started with a couple of photographs shared online from 2009, where the shadowy figure appeared behind smiling children.
"The story that went with it was these were photos that were taken right before a bunch of children had gone missing," Dr Shira Chess, author of Folklore, Horror Stories and The Slender Man, said.
The character went viral and became the subject for early "fake news" articles. It was especially a hit with tweens and early teens.
"At that stage of life, they're really searching," Dr Michael Rich, a pediatrician from Harvard University, told 20/20.
"A lot of this stuff that may scare them or that may draw them in, there is no discussion around, there is no critical thinking around, so they can get carried away."
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org