“There’s some normalcy after this horrific premeditated crime, and we’re just very proud of her,” Leutner family spokesman Steve Lyons told WISN.
On May 31, 2014, police say Payton was lured by friends Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser into the woods near their homes, where she was attacked by the other two as part of a murder plot. The girls left her to die, but Payton managed to crawl to a bike path where a passerby found her and called 911, according to investigators.
All three girls were 12 at the time of the attack.
Anissa and Morgan later told police they committed the stabbing in the name of Slenderman, a fictional online character popular in horror stories. The case is the subject of an upcoming HBO documentary, Beware the Slenderman, which debuts Jan. 23.
The suspects have been in custody since the attack, on charges of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, while they await trial. They have both pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
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Meanwhile, Payton, now 14, has kept a low profile as she navigates high school like any other teen. She’s in AP classes, studying French and even took a trip to Canada with her school’s French Club, Lyons told WISN.
But while she continues to move forward with her life, she is fully aware that she might have to testify in the upcoming trial, which is expected to begin this summer.
“Having to relive that is very difficult,” Lyons said, “but at the same time, they do believe that at the end of the day, justice will be served.”