‘Slender Man’ stabbing inmate told therapist she’d ‘never known how to care’, release bid hearing is told

Morgan Geyser was 12 when she stabbed her friend multiple times to please a fictional character

Dan Gooding
Thursday 11 April 2024 12:44 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 woman asking to be released from a 40-year sentence in a psychiatric institute for attempting to murder a classmate ten years ago, in order to please a fictional character, told her therapist in October that she had “never known how to care”.

Morgan Geyser, 21, was 12 when she and Anissa Weier lured fellow sixth-grader Payton Leutner into Wisconsin woodland and stabbed her on 21 May 2014.

The pair were doing it in the name of the character known as “Slender Man”, in order to become his servants and protect their families from him.

Geyser pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide, with the judge sentencing her to decades at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute.

Her attorneys now argue that she is in a position to go home, with the first of a two-day hearing getting underway on Wednesday afternoon.

Ms Leutner’s parents appeared via Zoom for the hearing, while other family members were in the courtroom where Geyser sat in her orange outfit.

Geyser is led out at the end of the hearing (AP)

Three doctors had prepared reports on Geyser ahead of the hearing, while a Department of Health and Human Services report was also filed.

Doctor has spent decade meeting with Geyser

Psychologist Dr Deborah Collins was the first to be called to the stand. She was originally retained by Geyser’s defence lawyers in 2014, not long after her arrest, and has met her multiple times.

The doctor said she felt that Geyser had made progress towards being ready for release, but that she was not yet there.

Doctor Deborah Collins was the first expert to give testimony on 10 April 2024 (WISN)

One of the reasons for that conclusion came from notes taken during an individual therapy session between Geyser and a therapist at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute. Dr Collins read the patient’s comments from the record.

Dr Deborah Collins gives evidence (AP)

“How do you think I was able to repeatedly stab my best friend and b****face [Weier] thought she was all the brains? I was pulling her along, too,” Geyser told her therapist in October. “I didn’t care, I couldn’t care, I’ve never known how to care.”

Dr Collins said those could have been emotionally charged comments made during a therapy session, but even so, to say that so close to petitioning for release was “a potential red flag”.

The doctor was asked to explain her history with Geyser’s case, which stretched back to 2014.

“My initial impressions included that Ms Geyser was not well, psychiatrically,” She said. “That she had experienced trauma, certainly, in the commission of the offences and that she also presented as quite odd during the two-and-a-half-hour interview I had with her.”

When Dr Collins first met Geyser, she said she was collecting data, not forming opinions, but she has met the young woman around a dozen times since.

The doctor said that at the time of the 2014 offence, Geyser was suffering from a mental health condition which meant she could not fully understand that what she had done was wrong.

The three friends had a sleepover before the attack, prompted by the fictional character known as Slender Man.

The character had emerged from horror stories that went viral online, with the tall thin man often pictured with a blank face and wearing a black suit.

At the time, both girls appeared to believe he was real and planned to attack Ms Leutner to protect themselves and their families from him.

While at a park in Waukesha, Weier told Ms Leutner to lie on the ground, with Geyser then proceeding to stab her 19 times.

The pair left the victim for dead, but she managed to crawl to a nearby bike path, where a passerby found her.

Anissa Weier, left, and Morgan Geyser pictured in 2014 (iStock/Police Handout)

Ms Leutner had to undergo 25 surgeries to repair her heart, liver, stomach and pancreas, with her mother telling ABC News in 2017 that her daughter slept with scissors under her pillow for protection.

Geyser and Weier were sentenced nearly three years later following separate trials.

Weier was granted a conditional release in 2021, allowing her to live with her father. She was required to wear a GPS monitor until 12 September 2023.

Geyser said she faked psychotic symptoms

Back in the courtroom on Wednesday, Dr Collins said that she had concluded in 2022 that Geyser was not in a suitable condition to be released, in a report issued before a withdrawn bid for release that year.

Geyser had told those working with her in the fall of 2022 that she was “faking” the psychotic symptoms she had presented since her 2014 arrest so that she would not return to her father’s home, where she said he had allegedly sexually abused her.

Dr Collins said the years of records and her meetings with Geyser showed that the patient did have mental health issues.

“She’s observed 24 hours a day, so it’s questionable that she would have been able to malinger and pull the wool over the eyes of so many mental health professionals,” the doctor later told the judge.

She described an attempt by Geyser to take her own life in 2021, along with other minor incidents of “self-injury”.

The psychiatrist said that Geyser still presents a significant risk to others and therefore should not be released yet.

“I know she’s not ready now,” the doctor said.

Dr Collins did say that Geyser should meet the conditions for release within the coming months, not years, as long as she continues on the trajectory of her recovery demonstrated in recent months.

In part, that is down to a plan put together by Geyser for her recovery, including career plans as either a writer or working in a hospital.

She told Geyser’s defence attorney that the 21-year-old was psychiatrically stable and had been for some time, despite the red flags mentioned.

Slender Man beliefs persisted for many months after arrest

Dr Brooke Lundbohm, who has worked alongside Dr Collins, was up next.

Having also been on the case since 2014, Dr Lundbohm backed up her colleague in saying that Geyser was not yet ready for conditional release.

“It is my opinion that she continues to pose a significant risk of bodily harm to herself, others or property,” the doctor said.

She also called into question Geyser’s claim that she had been faking her symptoms, pointing to behaviour prior to the stabbing attack which included talking to herself and bringing a hammer to school.

The doctor said that Geyser’s beliefs around Slender Man persisted “for months, if not at least a couple of years”, despite the legal issues she was facing.

Dr Lundbohm also referred to multiple voices Geyser repeatedly heard speaking to her over the years, while staff in the institution observed her laughing at or talking to herself, apparently to those voices she was hearing.

When asked why Geyser had changed her story and claimed she had faked her symptoms, the doctor said she believed that was because the inmate felt that because she had now reached adulthood, she would not need to go home.

The doctor said Geyser had shown multiple signs of psychotic behaviours over the years but had shown real progress in recent years.

“She is not symptom-free at this point,” the doctor added, speaking to reports of Geyser becoming overwhelmed by various activities within the facility and working to develop coping mechanisms to deal with those moments.

Dr Lundbohm was also asked about multiple relationships Geyser has had with men much older than herself, with the doctor saying this was a “complicated topic”.

“She is an individual who has been isolated and has developed relationships with people who have, frankly, been nice to her,” Dr. Lundbohm said.

“It’s been difficult to identify the motives of some of these individuals. Certainly, there have been people who have tried to establish a relationship for their own gain,” the doctor continued, adding that some of those people helped Geyser to feel less lonely while in the institution.

At 4.30pm local time, the judge ordered the court to be in recess until Thursday morning at 9am, with the defence expected to cross-examine Dr Lundbohm.

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