Slender Man attacker denied release from psychiatric ward will try again in six months

Morgan Geyser’s attorney said she had wanted to apologise to her victim during the hearing

Dan Gooding
Friday 12 April 2024 16:13 BST
Morgan Geyser's attorney says they will try again for her release in six months

The attorney representing Slender Man attacker Morgan Geyser said Thursday that they will try again in six months after her bid for early release was denied.

Anthony Cotton spoke outside the court following Judge Michael Bohren’s decision that the 21-year-old must remain at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute.

The judge, who has been on the case since 2014, when Geyser stabbed her friend Payton Leutner 19 times to please the fictional character Slender Man, deemed her to still be a severe risk to herself and others.

“I think we will pursue it in six months, she is making progress and doctors hinted at that,” Mr Cotton said.

Over two days, doctors who have worked with Geyser since she was 12 explained how she was still showing signs of mental health issues, but did agree that she had stopped showing signs of psychosis in the past year or so.

However, Geyser’s claims in late 2022 that she had faked her symptoms to get away from abuse at home worried two of those doctors and Judge Bohren.

Mr Cotton said he did not fully understand why that had become such a focus.

“I don’t think she’s faking anything,” he said. “I think that it’s a process of coming to a realisation of what the symptoms were and what the condition is.

“That is why the doctors were unanimous in their conclusions today that she does not have schizophrenia.”

Morgan Geyser seen in the courtroom on 10 April 2024 as she appealed for an early release
Morgan Geyser seen in the courtroom on 10 April 2024 as she appealed for an early release (WISN)

Doctors said during the hearing that they did not believe Geyser could have faked her symptoms, as she had shown signs of mental health issues before the near-fatal attack in 2014 and had been monitored round-the-clock since being incarcerated.

Now, Mr Cotton argues that she has made progress and is ready to move to a lower level of care where she can be socialised while still receiving treatment.

Dr Kayla Pope, who runs the institution housing Geyser, said on Thursday that it was her opinion Geyser was ready for that.

“I do think at this point it is critical for her to make the transition into the community to help with her ongoing development,” the doctor told the court.

Judge Bohren’s ruling, however, means she faces another six months at the institution.

He argued that there was not sufficient evidence that Geyser would not commit another violent crime, while also saying he could not yet trust her ability to truthfully report her symptoms.

Geyser was set to speak at this week’s hearing, Mr Cotton added.

“She wanted to apologise to the victim and explain how horrible she feels about what she did,” he said. “She wanted to explain her sympathy and empathy.”

However, Mr Cotton added that he had not felt it would “move the needle” in her favour.

There will be another opportunity to appeal for conditional release in six months, with one option being a group home where Geyser could live in the community while still receiving treatment.

Geyser’s co-defendant Anissa Weier, who was with her and Ms Leutner in the woods at the time of the attack, was granted conditional release in 2021 to live with her father. Her GPS tracker was removed in September 2023.

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