Slender Man stabbing: Chilling concerns that Morgan Geyser ‘still poses risk to others’

Geyser is serving a 40-year sentence in a mental health institution after stabbing her friend aged 12

Dan Gooding
Thursday 11 April 2024 21:48 BST
Morgan Geyser is brought into Waukesha County Circuit Court for a motion hearing on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Morgan Geyser is brought into Waukesha County Circuit Court for a motion hearing on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (AP)

A doctor who has worked with the Slender Man stabber Morgan Geyser for a decade said that the inmate’s claims that she “faked” psychotic symptoms mean she is less eligible for release than she may feel.

On day two of a conditional release hearing, Dr Brooke Lundbohm spoke of inconsistencies in the 21-year-old’s reporting of her mental health state, and that meant she still posed a risk to herself and the community.

Geyser is serving a 40-year sentence in a mental institution after she stabbed her friend when she was 12-years-old in Wisconsin in 2014, believing that she was doing it to please the fictional character “Slender Man”.

Ultimately, the judge ruled that Geyser was not ready for release and sent her back to the Winnebago Mental Health Institute.

This is how day two of the hearing played out:

Morgan Geyser was asking for early, conditional release at a hearing in Waukesha County, but Dr Lundbohm told the court on Wednesday that Geyser now claims she faked the psychotic symptoms observed over many years.

“If we go down the branch of ‘I malingered, I faked it all, I was involved in this long-term, complicated manipulation of everyone around me, including the legal professionals, the evaluators, treatment team, family’, that seriously raises risk,” the doctor said.

“That, frankly, would put her risk off the charts, in part because as she is saying now, ‘I had control of everything and I basically was doing it for my own gain’, that puts serious question as to how she came to that level of violence ten years ago.”

Dr Lundbohm said she did not believe this was the reality of Geyser’s situation, however.

She referred to Geyser’s statements over the years of a shadowy figure she often saw during her childhood - a figure which later became the “Slender Man” character she discovered online.

The doctor said that these reports from early on in the case showed that Geyser had been suffering psychotic symptoms before she had stabbed her friend, Payton Leutner, after they had a sleepover with fellow sixth grader Anissa Weier.

Weier was also convicted in relation to the attack and was released in 2021, with conditions which were later lifted in September 2023.

Geyser continues to ‘wrestle’ with her history

Thursday’s hearing focused on whether Geyser would be a risk to herself and others, should she be allowed out on conditional release.

“One of the things that is very important to me when considering her readiness for release is that we want her to be reliable, we want to be able to trust what she is saying, so we can put appropriate support around her and ensure she is doing well,” the doctor said.

Geyser’s attorney Anthony Cotton asked Dr Lundbohm if she had any concerns over Geyser’s ability to accurately report how she is doing, which the doctor said was hard to answer.

Despite at least a year without psychotic symptoms, Dr Lundbohm said Geyser was still several months away from being ready to leave the Winnebago Mental Health Institute.

Geyser has made several reports of un-specified pain in recent months, but has denied treatments and doctors have been unable to find the source of the pain, the court heard.

Dr Lundbohn also talked about PTSD episodes experienced by Geyser, which often happen in the middle of the night and lead to her being in distress, unable to communicate what is wrong until much later in individual therapy sessions, which the doctor said Geyser was engaged with.

“Fair to say that there seems to be a concerted effort to really understand and characterise herself in ways that allow her to make sense of things that she did as a child for instance, that are abhorrent to think about now?” Mr Cotton asked.

The doctor said that, yes, she believes Geyser continues to “wrestle” with her history and the issues which led her to carry out the stabbing a decade ago.

Defence witness says Geyser is sorry for her actions

Dr Kenneth Robbins was the third mental health professional called to the stand, this time by the defence.

Mr Cotton asked him about claims Geyser had made in a therapy session last October that she had “never known how to care”, which the doctor said he did not believe was true.

“I believe most of the time she is remorseful,” Dr. Robbins said. “What people say in therapy is often challenging to put into context.

“Often when people are in therapy, especially someone like Morgan who gets very down on herself, at times appropriately for things she has done in the past, she will say things which are very critical of herself that don’t necessarily reflect how she feels most of the time.”

Dr Robbins went on to say that he believes Geyser has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, rather than a primary diagnosis of a form of schizophrenia. He believes her father’s sexual abuse caused this.

Geyser’s father passed away in 2023.

The doctor said that he did not believe Geyser’s PTSD required ongoing treatment within the institution.

“As helpful as Winnebago has been and as skilled as their practitioners are, I think the downside of being there is significantly more worrisome than the advantages of being there at this point,” Dr Robbins said.

The doctor repeated other claims that Geyser had not shown any signs of psychotic symptoms in the past year or so, but also discounted her claims that she had faked her symptoms.

“Could she do that 24 hours a day for eight years? I just don’t think that’s possible,” he said.

Dr Robbins recommended that Geyser be released into a group home so that she can get used to being in the community once more, after spending most of her adolescence and early adulthood in the institution.

Judge Michael O Bohren then called Dr Kayla Pope at the facility Geyser has been held.

She has known the patient since July 2019 and said that it was her opinion that Geyser was ready for conditional release.

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

‘Only one victim in this case’

In closing arguments, state attorney Ted Szczupakiewicz said that Dr Robbins’ report was too brief and did not give enough detail to draw a confident conclusion on Geyser’s mental state.

He referred to both Dr Deborah Collins and Dr Lundbohm’s statements in court Wednesday, saying that neither claimed Geyser will never be released.

“Both admit that this will happen, but she is just not there yet,” Mr Szczupakiewicz said.

The attorney then called out Dr Robbins, who said in his report that this was a case with many victims.

“There are not many victims here judge, there is one victim. There is one victim who almost died and that was the victim in this case, in 2014,” the attorney said.

“Morgan is not a victim in this case.”

The attorney said that Ms Leutner was the victim who would spend the rest of her life a victim, bearing the scars of the attack.

Mr Szczupakiewicz also questioned Geyser’s claims that she was faking her symptoms, again referring to her years of testimony that she was afraid of Slender Man and what he might do to her and her family.

Geyser’s attorney said that even if the judge granted her appeal today, that did not mean she would simply walk out the door.

“She does not go anywhere today other than Winnebago, where she will remain at the mental health hospital for 60, 90, 120, however many days it takes or extensions they need for the hospital to come up with a release plan and submit it to the court,” Mr Cotton added.

The attorney explained that Geyser would still likely be subjected to decades of supervision once living in the community once more.

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