HBO’s documentary Beware the Slenderman tells the story of how two 12-year-old girls became so fascinated with a horrific urban legend they turned it into a true crime murder. It was the summer of 2014 when Anna Weier and Morgan Geyser lured classmate Payton “Bella” Leutner into the woods near Waukesha, Wisconsin where they lived and stabbed their fellow sixth-grade classmate 19 times.
Beware the Slenderman is directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky. The documentary debuted on HBO last night and painted a picture of what happened when two pre-teens became so fascinated with the urban legend that they almost killed Leutner in hopes that they would be worthy to serve the urban legend known as the Slenderman, according to Vox.
In the new HBO documentary, the urban legend of the Slenderman was explored, as well as the perpetrators of the shocking attempted murder of their classmate. The lives of attackers Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, as well as the lives of their parents, are explored in what turns out to be less of a story of the evils children are capable of committing and more about the aftermath of the attempted murder and how it has affected their families.
— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) January 24, 2017
GQ calls the Slender Man case the “modern parent’s worst-case scenario” in terms of access to the internet, and all of the horrible information and ideas that young children can access even with the strictest parent controls and careful parenting.
When Morgan Geyser’s mom, Angie Geyser, was asked if there were any signs from her daughter’s childhood that something wasn’t right, she brought up a time when she watched the movie Bambi with Morgan. Rather than showing compassion and getting upset over the death of Bambi’s mother, she excitedly cheered for Bambi to run away from the hunters and save himself. While Bambi’s mother dying is one of the saddest moments in the history of Disney animation, Morgan didn’t get upset over the death scene, nor did she shed any tears.
Morgan Geyser suffers from mental illness, according to Angie, and she shouldn’t be tried as an adult for the attempted murder of Bella Leutner. The documentary revealed that Morgan is suffering from undiagnosed schizophrenia, and the illness caused her to believe that Slenderman is real. Morgan’s father, Matt Geyser, also suffers from schizophrenia and shared his experience in struggling with the mental illness as well.
— VICE (@VICE) January 23, 2017
While incarcerated, Geyser has made claims that she has Vulcan mind control and has been visited by Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series. It was also revealed that Morgan believes she cannot upset the Slenderman for fear that he will harm her parents.
Morgan Geyser was obsessed with the Slenderman. She kept notebooks about her obsession and often drew pictures of the urban legend. Investigators also found notes written by Morgan about the Slenderman that were very dark and disturbing, containing messages such as “he will find you” and “the pain is inside.” She also defaced Barbie dolls, stripping them down and coloring their bodies with markers. Many of the dolls were found to have weird symbols on them and were connected to her obsession with the Slenderman.
Anissa Weier’s story is a little different from Morgan Geyser’s. Anissa doesn’t suffer from mental illness like her friend, but her involvement in the Slenderman case came about due to her longing to connect and fit in. According to the New York Daily News, Anissa had a hard time in school and was the victim of bullying.
— Phyllis Pleasants (@stvienxfan) January 15, 2017
This makes a lot of sense, and even Anissa Weier’s teachers who were interviewed for the HBO documentary talked about how lonely Anissa was and how she often cried in class because of the way her peers had treated her. In an elementary school yearbook, Anissa referred to one of her teachers, Tom Haynes, as a second father to her. When interviewed about the case, Haynes said in retrospect, he wishes he had done more for Anissa. He said that when she started hanging around with Morgan Geyser, he was happy that she had finally connected and made a friend.
Both Anissa and Morgan were lonely girls with only each other as friends for quite some time. Due to this, both girls reportedly sought friendship and community online, which is what led them to learn about and become obsessed with the Slenderman urban legend.
After the stabbing of Peyton Leutner, both Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier were questioned by police. During the police interview, Morgan shows no emotion as she gave officers all the details of what happened when they lured their friend into the woods and stabbed her 19 times. To the contrary, Anissa broke down in tears multiple times and was very emotional about the crime.
The victim of Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, Peyton Leutner was friendly enough with the two girls that they ended up at a birthday sleepover together, and that is where things went very wrong. While Leutner is represented in the HBO documentary, Beware the Slenderman, her family did not participate in the shocking film.
[Featured Image by Alex Malikov/Shutterstock]