Payton Leutner was stabbed 19 times in the abdomen, chest, arms and legs when she was only 12 years old. Her friends, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, told investigators they were making a sacrifice to Slender Man, a fictional internet character. Weier and Geyser were also 12 years old at the time of the stabbing May 13, 2014 in the woods of Wisconsin.
Payton, who was known as “Bella” to her friends, was left in the woods while her friends went to find Slender Man, who they believed lived in northern Wisconsin. They believed the stabbing would make them “proxies” for Slender Man, and that they would be able to live with him in his mansion, according to an appeal filed in Geyser’s case.
Her mother, Stacie Leutner, detailed Payton’s injuries and her physical and emotional scars in a victim impact statement she read in court. The girl endured surgery while her parents waited to learn if their daughter would survive. Her recovery was slow and painful.
Geyser and Weier were planning the stabbing for six or seven months, often speaking about it in code. They decided to carry out their plan during a sleepover, the court documents said.
Here’s what you need to know:
Payton Leutner Was ‘One Millimeter Away from Certain Death,’ Says Complaint Filed in the Case
A criminal complaint filed in the Slender Man stabbing case, which you can read in full here, said Payton Leutner was “one millimeter away from certain death.” One of the stab wounds to her chest was only one millimeter from her aortic artery. If it had been hit, she would have died within minutes, the criminal complaint said.
Leutner had fluid around her heart, which required emergency surgery. She was also stabbed in the liver, pancreas and stomach.
Her mother, Stacie Leutner, detailed her daughter’s injuries – both physical and emotional – in a victim impact statement she read in court. Payton was rushed to the hospital and placed in the intensive care unit. She had emergency surgery and still has many visible scars from the attack.
“The 19 stab wounds that Payton endured that day left 19 very visible scars on her arms, her legs, her hip, her torso, and her chest,” Stacie Leutner wrote in the letter. “The nearly 6 hour surgery and other medical treatments to repair her heart, diaphragm, liver, stomach, and pancreas left 6 more scars. Two of these scars span from just below her neck to just below her belly button. They are still red and angry more than 3 years later. They tingle and ache and remind her of their presence every day. Things that should be a fun experience for a mother and daughter have become mired with reminders of her attack. Shopping for homecoming dresses leaves only a few options because far too many dresses will show off her scars. Beach vacations are harsh reminders that swimsuits aren’t made for young girls with 25 scars.”
Payton “Bella” Leutner Was Found by a Passerby With 19 Stab Wounds, Pleading for Help
Payton Leutner was stabbed 19 times by her two friends on May 31, 2014. Leutner, who was known as “Bella” to her friends, was having a sleepover with Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser. All three girls were 12. Luetner was referred to as P.L. in an appeal filed in Geyser’s case in 2016.
“As set forth in the criminal complaint, as well as testimony in the preliminary hearing, the charge stems from the events of May 31, 2014, when 12-year-old P.L. was found by a passerby lying, blood-soaked in the grass pleading for help,” the appeal says. “P.L. was stabbed 19 times in her chest, abdomen, arms and legs.”
After she was left for dead, Leutner eventually managed to get up and made her way to the road, using trees to support her. A bicyclist found her and called for help, according to the Star Tribune.
Geyser and Weier were found walking together miles from the scene, and told investigators about their plan to stab Bella so they could become Slender Man’s “proxies.” Killing Leutner would grant them status with the character, and they would be allowed to live in his mansion with him, the girls told police. They started making plans in December 2013 or in January 2014, and decided to carry out the plot at Geyser’s sleepover birthday party. They would make plans together by using code words at school and on the bus, the appeal said.
They tried to kill Leutner several times May 30 and in the morning May 31, but each attempt was “frustrated,” the appeal said. Eventually they decided to lure Leutner into the woods, saying they were playing a game of hide-and-seek. Weier sat on Leutner and Geyser went “ballistic” stabbing her friend. They told her they were going to get help, but went for a walk to find Slender Man, the court paperwork said.
The initial plan was for Weier to stab Leutner “because Weier knew all the weak spots,” according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in the case. Weier told police Geyser restrained Leutner, but she couldn’t go throw with it. Weier later restrained Leutner for Geyser to stab her, but Geyser “had a nervous breakdown,” Weier told police.
Creepypasta Compedium gives instructions on how to become a proxy for Slender Man, a fictional online character. It says proxies are either chosen or “enlist.” Proxies of Slender Man are his servants or helpers, and serve as his connection to the human world. They must complete tasks Slender Man gives them, the website says.
“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.”
Leutner, Now 17, Made a Full Recovery & Said She Wants to Pursue a Medical Career
Payton Leutner is now a high school senior in Wisconsin, and she plans to attend college in 2020 to pursue a medical career, according to the Star Tribune. She said she doesn’t want to talk to Weier or Geyser again, but if she did speak to Geyser, she would thank her.
“I would probably, initially thank her,” Leutner told ABC News. “I would say, ‘Just because of what she did, I have the life I have now. I really, really like it and I have a plan. I didn’t have a plan when I was 12, and now I do because of everything that I went through.'”
Still, she said their actions were “probably unforgivable,” although she believes that the Slender Man motive was truthful.
Geyser “believed so hard in this thing that she would do anything for it,” she told ABC News.
She agreed with the decision to charge the 12-year-old girls as adults. Although Leutner is on a positive track, the stabbing left both physical and emotional scars. She told ABC News she sleeps with a pair of broken scissors “just in case.” She said she has come to accept all of her scars.
“It’s just a part of me,” she said.