WAUKESHA, Wis. (CN) — One of two Wisconsin teenagers who attempted to murder their friend in 2014 while under the sway of a fictional online boogeyman will be released from a mental health facility on Monday.
Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren on Friday approved a conditional release plan from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and others for Anissa Weier, 19, who has been held at the Winnebago Mental Health Institution since 2017 after being sentenced to 25 years of commitment for her role in a grisly, sensational crime that drew global headlines.
On the morning of May 31, 2014, Weier and Morgan Geyser stabbed their friend Payton Leutner in the woods near Geyser’s home in Waukesha while playing hide-and-seek after the three 12-year-old girls had a sleepover together.
The girls believed they had to commit the murder to prove their loyalty as “proxies” to Slenderman, a cryptic internet character that originated as an online meme in 2009 and soon circulated on social media and horror forums. The tall, thin, black-clad and faceless character’s mythology includes stalking the woods, kidnapping children and paranormal abilities to cause amnesia and provoke paranoid behavior.
Geyser and Weier were found by sheriff’s deputies near the freeway hours after the attack, saying they were walking to Slenderman’s mansion in the Wisconsin Northwoods about 300 miles away. Leutner was found the same day crawling from the woods toward a nearby road in Waukesha with 19 stab wounds, which she survived after several surgeries and a weeklong hospital stay.
Geyser, who initially came up with the idea for the murder and devised the plan with Weier months ahead of time, was given 40 years’ confinement at the Winnebago institution in 2018. A state appeals court upheld the adult sentence in August 2020 and a split Wisconsin Supreme Court denied her petition for review of that decision in January of this year.
As part of her plea agreement, Geyser is eligible to apply for conditional release every six months, though she has yet to do so.
On Friday, Bohren acknowledged the seriousness of the 2014 crime, the intense media attention it drew and the need to ensure the safety of Leutner and her family, Weier and her family, and the public at large in arranging for Weier’s release into the community. He tentatively granted Weier's release in July while all involved waited on her caretakers' conditional release plan, which was under seal at the time of Friday's hearing.
At the time he granted conditional release in July, the judge took stock of the fact that the shared-delusional disorder Weier was diagnosed with had passed, according to mental health examiners. Though she is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and major depressive disorders, Bohren found no reason to think Weier will be a violent danger to herself or others if released.
Weier’s attorneys—Maura McMahon and Joseph Smith, both of Waukesha—made no objections on Friday to the conditional release report assembled with input from the state health department, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and doctors and psychiatric professionals at the Winnebago institution, with McMahon only saying Weier “looks forward to moving on into a productive life.”
McMahon noted at her client's previous release hearing in July that Weier plans to attend college and get a part-time job while living with her father, whose address will be confidential per the court's release order.
Deputy District Attorney Ted Szczupakiewicz approved of the plan across the board, only requesting that the state, the court and the victim’s family be notified if Weier’s 24/7 GPS monitoring is to be removed or modified so there can be a hearing on the matter, which the judge and the defense readily agreed to.
Bohren – who has presided over the Slenderman case from the beginning – said he was satisfied with the release plan’s protections for the community and Weier and signed it on Friday, returning Weier to the mental health facility before her release on Monday. She will remain under supervision by the state for the remaining 18 years of her sentence, until she is 37.
“Ms. Weier, good luck to you, and have a good day,” Bohren said.
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