Payton Leutner was stabbed 19 times by her friends

By Elaine Aradillas
October 25, 2019 06:00 AM
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Shortly after two teen girls took turns stabbing their friend a total of 19 times and leaving her for dead in a wooded area in Waukesha, Wisc., local law enforcement found the assailants walking on the side of a road.

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weir, both 12 at the time, were picked up and taken to the Waukesha Police Department, where they nonchalantly told police of their bizarre plot: They planned to kill classmate Payton Leutner to appease “Slenderman,” a fictional character in online horror stories.

“[Morgan’s] at a police department and she’s covered in blood, and this is like a normal day for her,” Waukesha Police Det. Tom Casey tells ABC anchor David Muir on an upcoming episode of 20/20.

The two-hour 20/20 special — airing Friday on ABC at 9 p.m. ET — delves into the shocking actions of Morgan and Anissa, who lured Payton into the woods after a sleepover before the stabbing.

Speaking to Muir about the May 31, 2014, stabbing, Payton will reveal for the first time that she still bears the scars from that day, but says her subsequent recovery shaped her into the person she is today.

“I would say [to Morgan], ‘Just because of what she did, I have the life I have now. I really, really like it and I have a plan. I didn’t have a plan when I was 12, and now, I do because of everything that I went through,’” Payton explains.

After the stabbing, Payton managed to crawl to a bike path where a passerby found her and called 911.

Both Weier and Geyser told investigators they felt compelled to kill Payton in an effort to become Slenderman’s servants. In 2017, Geyser pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree homicide as part of a plea deal and was sentenced to 40 years in a mental health facility. That same year, Weier pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree homicide and was sentenced to 25 years in a mental health facility.

Payton Leutner
ABC News

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The attempted murder of Payton and the investigation around it became the subject of the HBO documentary Beware the Slenderman. A subsequent feature film about the case was made, starring Joey King.

Payton, now 17, tells Muir about her physical scars, saying that they are now “just a part of me. I don’t think much of them. They will probably go away and fade eventually.”

Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser
Waukesha Police Department

Payton tells Muir in the special she befriended Geyser after seeing the girl sitting alone at lunch, describing her as funny and “a little lonely.”

She says she considered Geyser her best friend. “She had a lot of jokes to tell,” Payton recalls. “She was great at drawing and her imagination always kept things fun.”

Stacie Leutner, Payton’s mother, recalls her daughter’s friendship with Morgan, whom she no longer recognizes.

“She was the Morgan I started to see coming out,” but adds she was not the same girl she knew early in the girls’ friendship.

The interview with Payton Leutner on 20/20 airs Friday, Oct. 25, at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.