In 2014, a 12-year-old girl crawled out of the woods covered in wounds, having miraculously survived a shocking attack: According to authorities, two friends had taken her to the woods and stabbed her 19 times. Their goal was apparently to attract the notice of “Slenderman,” a popular fictional character in many forms of Internet horror stories.
PEOPLE Staff Writer Elaine Aradillas, who has covered the case from the beginning, appeared on People Now on Wednesday to discuss the latest updates, which will be featured in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
HBO will also debut a documentary, Beware the Slenderman, on Jan. 23 at 10 p.m. ET that looks deeper at the lives of Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, the tweens who plotted the attack and who are awaiting trial.
• To learn more about the “Slenderman” stabbing case, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.
“I think what people are going to find out is how normal the parents are, and how normal their life was, and how typical they were as 12-year-old girls,” Aradillas said on People Now.
In an exclusive clip from the HBO doc, which premiered on People Now, Anissa’s mom explains how her daughter became more and more focused on her iPad and engrossed in an online world — but even then, how the girl didn’t appear to be exposed to anything abnormal.
WATCH: HBO Documentary ‘Beware the Slenderman’ Looks at Case of Two Middle School Girls Who Tried to Kill Classmate
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Why was Anissa driven to hurt her friend? And what should other parents know about this case that may help them with their own children?
As Aradillas explained on People Now, “While again these [the girls’ parents] were normal parents, they knew what their children were doing, it might be best to sort of go to that next level: Do you believe in these characters or do you know that it is pretend and make-believe?”
As documentary director Irene Taylor Brodsky tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, “It really could be any of our kids.”
Anissa and Morgan were charged as adults with attempted first-degree intentional homicide. They are expected to go to trial this summer. If found guilty, they each face up to 65 years in prison.
They have both pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.