At dozens of legal hearings over more than two years, Anissa Weier’s parents have sat in the same courtroom as the parents of Payton Leutner — the girl Anissa stabbed 19 times as part of a murder plot.
On May 31, 2014, Anissa and Morgan Geyser, both 12 at the time, lured their best friend Payton, also 12, to a park and attacked her in homage to a fictional Internet character known as “Slenderman.”
“We do have eye contact and acknowledgement with the parents, but we have not given our condolences or asked, ‘How is Payton doing?'” Anissa’s mother Kristi Weier tells PEOPLE. “We have kept our distance out of respect for them and what they’re going through.”
Payton miraculously survived the stabbing after she crawled to a bike path where a passerby called 911. Anissa and Morgan were charged as adults with attempted first-degree intentional homicide. If guilty, they face up to 65 years in prison.
They have both pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
Since the incident, everyone has been trying to understand how two girls could plot such a horrific and bizarre crime, in which Payton was left for dead in the park.
Anissa’s parents were as shocked as everyone else to learn about their daughter’s obsession with the Internet character that has achieved folklore status through videos and mostly teen-created fiction. The girls’ relationship with Slenderman is the focus of an upcoming HBO documentary, Beware the Slenderman, which airs Jan. 23 at 10 p.m. ET.
“We did not raise her to do this action,” Kristi Weier tells PEOPLE. “I cry practically ever day since the incident.”
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The girls are currently awaiting trial, which is expected to begin this summer. Meanwhile, Payton, now 14, has recovered physically and a freshman in high school, Anissa’s father Bill Weier says Payton’s family members are in his thoughts.
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WATCH: HBO Documentary ‘Beware the Slenderman’ Looks at Case of Two Middle School Girls Who Tried to Kill Classmate
“I think about them every day of my life,” he tells PEOPLE. “As much as I would like to be able to talk to them about this, number one, how do you start that conversation? And number two, would it even be right?”