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Wisconsin woman who stabbed classmate to please 'Slender Man' won't be released from psychiatric hospital

Morgan Geyser is brought into Waukesha County Circuit Court for a motion hearing on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Waukesha, Wis. (Scott Ash / Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP) Morgan Geyser is brought into Waukesha County Circuit Court for a motion hearing on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Waukesha, Wis. (Scott Ash / Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

WARNING: Some of the content in this story may be disturbing. 

A Wisconsin woman who at age 12 said she stabbed a sixth-grade classmate nearly to death to please the online horror character Slender Man remains a risk to the public and won't be released yet from a psychiatric hospital, a judge said Thursday.

Judge Michael Bohren ruled against Morgan Geyser, now 21, despite the testimony of two psychiatrists, including the medical director of Winnebago Mental Health Institute, who said she was ready to depart that hospital and return to the community under certain conditions.

“The scales tip in favour of the public, and it tips that way by clear and convincing evidence,” Bohren said, citing the standard under Wisconsin law.

Geyser and Anissa Weier were 12 in 2014 when they lured Payton Leutner to a Waukesha park after a sleepover. Geyser stabbed Leutner repeatedly while Weier egged her on. Leutner suffered 19 stab wounds and barely survived.

The girls quickly confessed, saying they carried out the attack to appease Slender Man, a fictional online horror character. They said they feared he would otherwise harm their families.

Geyser pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide and was sent to the psychiatric institute because of mental illness. She was initially diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorder but has been off antipsychotic medications since 2022 with no new symptoms, said Dr. Ken Robbins.

“Morgan has improved quite dramatically. ... The kinds of things Morgan needs in my view — help with socialization, help with education, help with becoming independent — are things Winnebago can no longer provide in an effective way,” said Robbins, who recommended a move to a group home.

Dr. Kayla Pope, medical director at Winnebago, agreed. Geyser was placed there by court order in 2018, though she has been in custody in some form for a decade.

“She has actively participated in therapy, medication management and all the treatments that are available," Pope said. “At this point she is safe to return to the community. I don't know that much more could be done to make her safer.”

But the judge said he was troubled by reports that Geyser in recent years has attributed the attack to her desire to get away from her abusive father, now deceased.

“Her credibility is at issue. She's changed her position,” Bohren said. “Until that credibility is resolved, the risk is high," he added, referring to public safety.

Separately, two psychologists testified Wednesday that it was still too soon to release Geyser. Waukesha County Assistant District Attorney Ted Szczupakiewicz also opposed it.

After the hearing, Geyser's attorney, Tony Cotton, said she has not changed her story, though she believes she stabbed the victim because of a trauma-related mental disorder, not schizophrenia. She can file another petition for release in six months.

“Time will show she is a healthy and stable person who needs to be released to the community. Time has shown that,” Cotton told The Associated Press.

Weier, her accomplice, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree intentional homicide and was also sent to the psychiatric center. She was granted a release in 2021 to live with her father and was ordered to wear a GPS monitor. Top Stories

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