true crime

Payton was 12 when her two best friends almost stabbed her to death. This is her life now.

Payton Leutner has come to accept all the scars she has on her body.

“It’s just a part of me. I don’t think much of them. They will probably go away and fade eventually,” she told ABC journalist David Muir in her first ever interview since being stabbed 19 times by two classmates in 2014.

The then 12 year olds claimed to be doing the work of a fictional character called “Slenderman,” attacking Payton, who was also 12 at the time, at a sleepover at one of the girl’s homes.

A snippet of Layton speaking on the ABC. Post continues after video.

Video by ABC

The morning after the sleepover, Morgan Geyser, Anissa Weier and Payton headed to a local park to play hide-and-seek.

Morgan pulled out a knife she’d been hiding in her jacket and whispered to her accomplice, “I’m not going to until you tell me to”.

“Go ballistic, go crazy,” Anissa responded.

Morgan then stabbed Payton repeatedly, missing a major artery near her heart by just the width of a human hair.

morgan geyser
Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier. Image: Supplied.
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“One suspect held down the victim while the other suspect stabbed the victim 19 times in the arms, legs and torso,” police said at the time. “Many of the stab wounds hit major organs, but incredibly and thankfully, the victim survived this brutal assault.”

Morgan and Anissa washed themselves of Payton’s blood in the Walmart bathrooms, while Payton was left to bleed out in a ditch outside the park.

Despite barely being able to speak, she crawled to a nearby park where she was found by a passing cyclist.

At the time of the attack, the ABC spoke to Payton's parents but the young girl chose not to say anything herself.

Now aged 17, she's ready to reclaim her story.

"I feel like it's time for people to see my side rather than everyone else's," she said.

Payton remembers Morgan talking about Slenderman from the time she met her in sixth grade.

"I thought it was odd. It kind of frightened me a little bit. But I went along with it. I was supportive because I thought that's what she liked," she said.

"I told her that it scared me and that I didn't like it," she added.

slenderman
'The Slenderman' and a young girl. Image: ABC.

She even considering ending her friendship over it. When she met Anissa the obsession with Slenderman grew even bigger.

"I didn't like her [Anissa] I just hung out with her because I knew that Morgan really loved her as a friend. But she was always cruel to me," Payton told the ABC.

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She noticed on the night of the sleepover that the girls were acting a bit weird.

"Once I look back on it, I was like, why didn't I see something? But I am not blaming myself at all. Nobody could ever see something like this coming," she said.

Originally, the plan had been to kill Payton in her sleep but they changed their mind to carry out the attack the next day at the park.

She doesn't remember every detail of the attack, which she's relieved about. But she does remember her trust being broken by her best friend and not comprehending that they weren't going to get help for her.

"I couldn't focus much because my body was working so hard to keep itself alive," she said. "It was probably like, 'Vision isn't really a priority right now'."

Layton was rushed into surgery where she remained for six hours.

"I remember the first thing that I thought after I woke up was like, 'Did they get them?'" she told ABC. "'Are they there? Are they in custody? Are they still out?'"

Payton Leutner, aged 12. Image: Supplied.

Both girls were in custody by this stage, and had told police they'd tried to kill Payton to protect their families from Slenderman.

They said they believed that once the murder was carried out, they would prove their loyalty to Slenderman and serve as his servants in his mansion, which they believed was located in the Nicolet National Forest.

In August 2017, Anissa pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree homicide and in December 2017, she was sentenced to 25 years in a psychiatric hospital after being found to be mentally ill at the time of the attack. She will remain there until she is 37 years old.

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Morgan Geyser also pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder. She was sentenced to spend 40 years in a mental health unit and was diagnosed with schizophrenia as well as defiant disorder.

MORGAN-AND-ANNISSA
Morgan and Anissa in 2017. Image: AAPMorry Gash.

Payton's recovery has been difficult both physically and emotionally. She has 20 scars that stretch from below her neck to below her belly button.

After the attack, she slept with her mother - too scared to be alone at night. To this day, she sleeps with a pair of broken scissors under her pillow "just in case".

Trusting new friends has been particularly challenging for the teenager but she even surprised herself when answering the ABC's question 'what would she like Morgan to know?'

"I would probably, initially thank her. I would say, 'Just because of what she did, I have the life I have now. I really, really like it and I have a plan. I didn't have a plan when I was 12, and now I do because of everything that I went through.

"I wouldn't think that someone who went through what I did would ever say that," she said. "But that's truly how I feel. Without the whole situation, I wouldn't be who I am," she told the broadcaster.

She's in high school currently and plans to head to college in 2020 to pursue a career in the medical field, which she believes she became interested in because of what she went through.

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