Morgan Geyser is serving a 40-year sentence in a mental health institution for stabbing her friend, Payton Leutner, with help from Annisa Geyser. The girls tried to kill their friend to appease Slender Man, a fictional internet character. All three girls were 12 at the time.
Geyser’s sentence was appealed in January to the State of Wisconsin Court of Appeals. You can read the full appeal here. Geyser’s attorneys said that she should have been tried as a child, not an adult.
“Morgan E. Geyser was barely twelve-years-old when she and a friend attempted to kill another young girl,” the appeal said. “Geyser undertook that attempted killing in part to protect her and her family from what the circuit court found was her clear fear of death. The State of Wisconsin charged her with attempted first-degree intentional homicide, which automatically conferred adult-court jurisdiction. The matter thus proceeded in adult court.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Morgan Geyser Was Diagnosed With Schizophrenia & Oppositional Defiant Disorder Requiring Long-Term Mental Health Treatment
Morgan Geyser was diagnosed by several mental health experts with schizophrenia and oppositional defiant disorder, which would require her to be involved in long-term mental health treatment, according to an older appeal filed in her case in 2016. The experts testified at her trial.
“Despite the necessity for early treatment, Geyser had consistently refused medication to combat the symptoms of her illness,” the appeal said. “Instead, she prefers to continue to reside in ‘the fictional world that she has operated in and have contact with fictional characters that she’s had contact with in the past.”
Geyser experienced hallucinations since she was a very young child, but was not diagnosed with schizophrenia or given mental health treatment, according to a 2019 appeal. Weier introduced Geyser to Slender Man, who she seemed to recognize from an early hallucination.
“When Geyser was a toddler, she thought that a man bearing some similarity to Slender Man’s character had visited her,” the appeal said. “When she ‘saw the Slender Man silhouette, . . . she recognized that as [the] man who had visited her throughout the years [since] she was three or four.’ Of course, Slender Man had never actually visited Geyser; the interactions were a hallucination and a byproduct of her mental illness. But Geyser’s mental illness was then unknown, undiagnosed, and untreated. Her hallucinations persisted throughout her youth, and Geyser came to accept them as reality. She thus was ill-equipped for her first encounter with the Slender Man legend and unable to understand the character as fictional. To Geyser, Slender Man
was real. Her continuing encounters with the legend’s various internet iterations did nothing to stifle that belief. After all, much of the internet lore about Slender Man takes the form of first-person accounts and found footage detailing real-life experiences with Slender Man.”
Geyser went “ballistic” and stabbed Leutner in the woods, while Weier sat on her May 31, 2014. The two girls started plotting a murder in December 2013 or January 2014, often using code words to make their plans without being discovered at school or on the bus. They decided to carry out their plot at Geyser’s birthday sleepover. After several failed attempts to kill Leutner, they lured her to the woods, saying they were playing hide-and-seek. They told her they were going to get help, but walked into the northern Wisconsin woods, where they believed Slender Man was living, the 2016 appeal said.
The girls wanted to become “proxies” for Slender Man. Slender Man is a fictional online character. Slender Proxies are the character’s human connection to the world. They are ordered to carry out tasks for him, according to Creepypasta Compedium.
“Before I begin, I would like to give you some advice,” the author wrote. “If you want to become a proxy, make sure you are ready for anything. Once you become a Slender Proxy, there is no turning back.”
Morgan Geyser Told Police ‘It Was Weird that I Didn’t Feel Remorse’
After Geyser stabbed Leutner, who she and Weier called Bella, they planned to walk to Slender Man’s mansion where they believed they could live with him. They saw police were on the scene, and hid in the woods. Geyser told police she wiped off the knife and added, “It was weird that I didn’t feel remorse,” according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.
She told police Slender Man could read their minds and teleport. Weier told Geyser that if they did not kill Leutner Slender Man would kill their families, the complaint said. Killing Leutner “seemed necessary,” she said.
The girls initially planned to stab Leutner while she was sleeping “so they did not have to look into her eyes,” Geyser told police shortly after the stabbing, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in the case. They didn’t follow through with their initial plan, because Geyser did not want to go through with it, she told police.
“I wanted to give Bella one more day,” she said, and later added, “I wanted to see if I could put it off but it didn’t work out.”
Geyser was determined to be incompetent to proceed to trial by a Wisconsin circuit court August 1, 2014. She regained the competency to proceed to trial on December 18, 2014.
Morgan Geyser’s Lawyers Contend She Should Not Have Been Charged as an Adult
Geyser was charged as an adult because of a lower court hearing which determined there was probable cause showing the girl committed attempted first-degree murder. Her lawyers contend Geyser attempted to commit second-degree murder, or “imperfect self defense,” because she believed she was protecting herself and her family from the fictional character, Slender Man.
“Consistent with the rules governing preliminary hearings for children originally in adult court, Geyser adduced physical evidence and witness testimony establishing that her homicidal act was motivated by her belief that she had to kill lest she or her family be killed,” the appeal said.
Her lawyers also argued that some of the statements she made to investigators shortly after the stabbing should have been suppressed. She was questioned by police while in custody for seven and a half hours, and she was not permitted to speak to her parents, who had come to the police station to check on her. She had no legal knowledge, she was a child, and she suffered from severe mental disorders, the appeal said. She was initially deemed incompetent to stand trial, but that decision was later reversed after she gained some knowledge of the legal system.
“Whether a barely twelve-year-old, severely mentally ill person who is disallowed parental support during a custodial interrogation, suffering from active delusions, and hours earlier attempted to kill under the true belief that it would protect her from a fictitious character can knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive the constitutional rights to which she is entitled in a criminal proceeding when, still three weeks later, she is found not to understand those basic rights?” the appeal said.