• Slenderman

  • Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls
  • By: Kathleen Hale
  • Narrated by: Therese Plummer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 31 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (373 ratings)

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By: Kathleen Hale
Narrated by: Therese Plummer
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Publisher's summary

The first full account of the Slenderman stabbing, a true-crime narrative of mental illness, the American judicial system, the trials of adolescence, and the power of the internet.

On May 31, 2014, in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, Wisconsin, two 12-year-old girls attempted to stab their classmate to death. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier’s violence was extreme, but what seemed even more frightening was that they committed their crime under the influence of a figure born by the internet: the so-called “Slenderman”. Yet the even more urgent aspect of the story, that the children involved suffered from undiagnosed mental illnesses, often went overlooked in coverage of the case.

Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls tells that full story for the first time in deeply researched detail, using court transcripts, police reports, individual reporting, and exclusive interviews. Morgan and Anissa were bound together by their shared love of geeky television shows and animals, and their discovery of the user-uploaded scary stories on the Creepypasta website could have been nothing more than a brief phase. But Morgan was suffering from early-onset childhood schizophrenia. She believed that she had seen Slenderman long before discovering him online and that the only way to stop him from killing her family was to bring him a sacrifice: Morgan’s best friend Payton “Bella” Leutner, whom Morgan and Anissa planned to stab to death on the night of Morgan’s 12th birthday party. Bella survived the attack but was deeply traumatized, while Morgan and Anissa were immediately sent to jail, and the severity of their crime meant that they would be prosecuted as adults. There, as Morgan continued to suffer from worsening mental illness after being denied antipsychotics, her life became more and more surreal.

Slenderman is both a thrilling true-crime story and a search for justice.

Recorded by arrangement with Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc.

©2022 Kathleen Hale (P)2022 Audible, Inc.

Featured Article: Best of the Year—The 10 Best True Crime Listens of 2022

While humans have devoured crime stories since Cain and Abel, the line between sensitive reporting and vulturous rubbernecking has been crossed, and then deliberately redrawn, time and again. In a year when true crime TV again made headlines for centering perpetrators and disregarding survivors, these 10 outstanding listens quietly went in a different direction, setting a new standard of excellence for riveting storytelling with a heart of justice.

Editorial Review

The true story is even creepier than you think
If you’ve heard of the Slenderman stabbing, you know the headline: Two 12-year-old girls brutally stabbed their classmate in a Wisconsin park, claiming they were under the influence of a meme—a tall, faceless fictional character known as Slenderman. The crime set off a panic about the effects of the internet on kids, a fear that reliably found fresh evidence (remember the Tide Pods and Momo challenges?) to bolster its case. Lost in the coverage was the fact that one of the perpetrators suffered from severe early-onset schizophrenia, a condition that worsened after the girls were swallowed up by a criminal justice system that allowed them to be tried as adults. With Slenderman, journalist and Wisconsin native Kathleen Hale gives the first full account of what really happened. — Kat J.

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