Slender Man attacker denied probation and sent back to psychiatric ward as judge calls her crime ‘brutal, bloody, gory’

The judge ruled Morgan Geyser still poses a ‘significant risk’ to herself and others

Dan Gooding
Thursday 11 April 2024 21:44 BST
Judge Orders Release of One "Slender Man Stabbing" Woman

A woman who has spent a decade in a mental health institution for the attempted murder of her friend in Wisconsin, to please the fictional character “Slender Man”, has had her petition for early release denied.

Following a two-day hearing, Judge Michael O. Bohren ruled on Thursday that the 21-year-old still poses a “significant risk” to herself and others, despite claims that she has made improvements while at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute.

“This isn’t just a case where somebody drove a car into another car and drove off. This is a personal, brutal attack on another person. This is hands-on, if you will. It is bloody, it’s gory,” the judge said as he wrapped up the hearing.

“That kind of dangerous conduct is what the risk is. Do we know if someone will repeat it? We don’t know. But what this court’s responsibility is, is to ensure that the risk is lessened.”

Geyser, who was 12 when she stabbed fellow sixth grader Payton Leutner 19 times on 21 May 2014, was asking for conditional release, meaning she would have faced supervision and have been subject to an ongoing treatment plan.

At the time of the attack, Geyser and her friend Anissa Weier believed they needed to kill Ms Leutner to protect themselves and their families from the fictional character.

Weier was let out on conditional release in 2021, with her GPS tracker removed in September 2023.

Judge Michael Bohren ruled that Morgan Geyser still poses a risk to herself and others (AP)

Over the past two days, doctors who have treated and worked with Geyser spoke of their interactions with her over the best part of a decade.

Two of those witnesses, Dr Deborah Collins and Dr Brooke Laudbohm, explained that in recent years, Geyser had declared she had faked her psychotic symptoms, something the doctor and others said could not be true.

“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,” Dr Collins told the court on Wednesday.

Dr Laudbohm pointed to records showing multiple occurrences of Geyser speaking or laughing with herself, likely at the voices in her head which she had reported over the years.

Both argued that Geyser still had work to do to address her mental health and that the institution was the best place for her.

Dr Kenneth Robbins, who has also known Geyser for a decade, disagreed and said that now was the time for her to head out into the community.

“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.

His view was backed up by a surprise witness, called by the judge - Dr Kayla Pope, who runs the institution housing Geyser.

“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 said.

Morgan Geyser appeared told doctors she had “faked” her symptoms to get away from abuse at home (AP)

Geyser’s attorney Anthony Cotton 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.

However, Judge Bohren ultimately disagreed with those views.

In closing arguments, state attorney Ted Szczupakiewicz called out Dr Robbins, who had 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.”

Geyser’s attorney Anthony Cotton argued his client was ready for conditional release (AP)

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.

The judge, who first took on the case nearly ten years ago, appeared to agree with that, while also seeming uncomfortable with Geyser’s claims she faked her symptoms.

“What we’re faced with at this point is that Ms Geyser is doing well in her program, that she needs socialisation, she needs some further work in that regard,” the judge said.

“The other aspect is that her credibility is at issue. She has changed her position and the credibility of the reporter is critical to what assessments are made, how mental health professionals make decisions, how legal people make decisions,” he continued.

“When you put all of these issues together, we come back to risk. At this point, this court is satisfied that the credibility issue undermines Ms Geyser’s stay at the institution and that until that credibility issue is resolved, the risk is high.”

Geyser may be granted another appeal for conditional release in six months, which doctors Collins and Laudbohm did seem to feel could give the inmate enough time to work on the issues raised.

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