Slender Man stabbing: Morgan Geyser denied release

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A US woman who nearly killed her 12-year-old classmate to please the fictional character Slender Man has been denied release from a mental hospital.

Morgan Geyser was sentenced to 40 years in Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Wisconsin after pleading guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide over the 2014 stabbing of her classmate, Payton Leutner, when she was 12 years old.

Almost 10 years on, the now 21-year-old requested to leave the mental health institute on conditional release in January. However, a judge on Thursday has denied the request, determining Ms Geyser poses a risk of harming herself or others.

“The scales tip in favour of the public, and it tips that way by clear and convincing evidence,” Waukesha County Judge Michael Bohren said.

Ms Geyser had claimed she was faking her psychotic symptoms over the past 10 years.

But a psychologist testifying at a hearing on her release argued the 21-year-old’s claim “doesn’t line up” with years of observation.

“That would be rather remarkable. That would be very callous as well,” said Dr Brooke Lundbohm, who has been seeing Ms Geyser since 2014.

“If the person is not able to have insight into their mental health condition, the potential warning signs, the triggers that could cause decline, have insight into the kinds of treatment that may be beneficial – it raises a lot of concern (about being discharged).”

Psychologist Dr Deborah Collins also noted Ms Geyser was not ready to be released.

“It’s my opinion to a reasonable degree of professional certainty that she currently presents a significant risk of bodily harm to herself or others if conditionally released,” she said.

Dr Collins estimated Geyser could be ready for release in six to 12 months if she had to provide a time frame.

“I know she’s not ready now.”

However, Dr Ken Robbins, another psychologists who has also known Ms Geyser since 2014, argued the 21-year-old was ready to leave the mental institution, noting it can no longer provide what she needs.

“Morgan has improved quite dramatically,” Dr Robbins said. “The kinds of things that Morgan needs, in my view, help with socialisation, help with education, help with becoming independent, are things that Winnebago can no longer provide in an effective way.”

However, after hearing all evidence Judge Michael Bohren ultimately ruled he was “satisfied that the petition should be denied”.

A brutal attack

In May 2014, Geyser and her friend, Anissa Weier, lured Ms Leutner into the Milwaukee-area park after a sleepover.

There, Geyser stabbed the 12-year-old 19 times while Weier reportedly egged her on.

After the attack Ms Leutner crawled out of the woods, where she was found by a passing cyclist.

She was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and miraculously survived.

Ms Geyser later recounted the stabbing in court in 2017, stating: “Anissa said that she couldn’t do it and then I had to.”

When Judge Michael Bohren asked her where the girl was stabbed, Ms Geyser said: “Everywhere.”

Ms Weier and Ms Geyser told detectives they felt they had to kill Ms Leutner to become Slender Man’s “proxies,” or servants, and protect their families from him.

Prosecutors initially charged both girls with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a possible sentence of up to 65 years in prison, but their plea deals spared them that.

Ms Geyser pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide. She was convicted but found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, as part of her plea agreement.

Ms Weier pleaded guilty to being a party to attempted second-degree intentional homicide and was sentenced to 25 years in a mental institution.

She was later released under conditions in September 2021.

Five years after the attack, Ms Leutner told ABC News in 2019 it was difficult for her to physically and emotionally recover from the incident, but she hoped to “put everything behind” her and live her life “normally.”

“I’ve come to accept all of the scars that I have,” she told the outlet in her first interview after the incident. “It’s just a part of me. I don’t think much of them. They will probably go away and fade eventually.”

Ms Leutner said she was initially so frightened after the attack, she slept in bed with her mother at night.

She also revealed she still slept with a pair of broken scissors under her pillow for protection at the time.

Looking to the future, the then-17-year-ols said she was planning to attend college in 2020 and purse a career in the medical field.

“She’s a young lady with a really bright future … [She has] great grades, great friends,” said Leutner family spokesman Steve Lyons of SJL Government Affairs and Communications. “She’s got so much to live for and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of her life is.”