On Thursday, a Wisconsin judge agreed that one of two teenagers convicted in the "Slender Man Stabbing" could be released from a psychiatric hospital. Anissa Weier, who is now 19, has been at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute since 2017, after she was found guilty for attempting to kill her friend, Payton Leutner, in order to appease a Slender Man and keep him from harming her family. At the time, Weier was just 12 years old.
Weir was originally sentenced to 25 years in a psychiatric facility, but was released after less than four years on the grounds that "she had made great progress with her treatment and was ready to re-enter society," PEOPLE reported. In a letter obtained by WDJT-TV, Weier wrote that she was not done with her treatment, but that she had "exhausted all the resources available to me at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute. If I am to become a productive member of society, I need to be a part of society."
The prosecution countered her petition via a statement, arguing that "her mind is still immature" and she is "susceptible to dangerous influences," according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. But a judge found her to be "functioning very well," citing reports from her doctors, and ordered her release within 60 days. She will be monitored in some form until she's 37.
In 2009, a picture of the fictional humanoid character Slender Man won a photoshop contest and quickly took over the internet. Depictions of Slender Man changed, as did his legend, including the belief that he had the power to control minds. Weier, along with her friend Morgan Geyser, who also 12 at the time, believed Slender Man was real and lived in a mansion in Northern Wisconsin. In an effort to appease Slender Man, they believed that if they killed Leutner they would become his proxies.
So on May 31, 2014, the girls lured Leutner into a wooded park in Waukesha, Milwaukee, and stabbed her 19 times. Geyser used a kitchen knife, while Weier cheered and urged her on. "Anissa told her to lie down so she wouldn't lose blood so quickly, and told her to be quiet," Geyser testified in 2014. "And we left."
Leutner managed to crawl out of the wooded area and was spotted by a cyclist. She survived, though a doctor said that one of the stab wounds came within a millimeter of hitting an artery, which would have been fatal, as reported by The New York Times. Despite the girls being sixth-graders, Geyser and Weier were tried in adult court. Weier was initially charged with attempted first-degree homicide, but after a jury deemed her mentally ill at the time of the attack, she was charged with attempted second-degree homicide — a lesser charge.
Weier took a plea deal and was sentenced to the maximum amount: 25 years in a psychiatric facility. Geyser, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, plead guilty to attempted first-degree intentional homicide for her part in the attack, and was sentenced to 40 years in a psychiatric facility.
Weier, who obtained her high school degree and has plans to attend college, said in her letter that she is "committed to using this negative situation and publicity for something good. I intend to give back to my community by doing good within it, and hopefully healing the wounds I've inflicted on a lot of people."
"I thank everyone for their time and patience," she concluded, "and I ask that I be given a chance to prove that I am who I say I am."