The girl who once fought for her young life after being stabbed 19 times by two of her classmates, celebrated her birthday on Feb. 13 surrounded by family.
Payton Leutner, who loves animals and visited a local animal shelter in Waukesha, Wisconsin, for her 13th birthday, has tried to resume a normal life in the wake of court hearings and media attention surrounding the case.
“As horrific as all of this is and has been, they consider themselves lucky,” says family spokesman Stephen Lyons. “At the end of the day, Payton wakes up in her bed, they get to celebrate Christmas together, birthdays together, get pizza together – all the stuff that families do.”
Meanwhile, the two girls suspected of stabbing Payton – reportedly in homage to an online fictional character known as Slender Man – appeared in court earlier this week. Morgan Geyser, 12, and Anissa Weier, now 13, have been charged with intentional homicide, according to court documents.
On Monday, the court was shown a police interrogation video in which Weier said she believed she had to kill someone or else Slender Man would “kill my whole family in three seconds,” according to reports.
It was the first time Payton’s parents attended a court hearing.
“They wanted to be there. They needed to be there. It’s part of the healing process,” says Lyons.
The family continues to lean on the community, which has donated money toward mounting medical costs.
“Physically, she has healed,” says Lyons. “But the emotional trauma takes its toll.”