Psychologist: Shared delusion led to Slender Man stabbing

WAUKESHA, Wis. – A shared delusion and an interest in the paranormal led two girls to stab another 12-year-old girl in a Wisconsin park as a tribute to the fictional horror character Slender Man, a psychologist testified Wednesday.

Melissa Westendorf was appointed by a judge to evaluate one of the girls, Anissa Weier, now 15, after her insanity plea. Westendorf testified at Weier’s mental capacity trial that she believes Weier suffered from a shared delusional disorder that left her unable to conform her conduct to the law when she and Morgan Geyser tried to kill their friend, Payton Leutner, in 2014.

Westendorf acknowledged under cross-examination that the condition is rare among two children who are friends. She said most cases involve spouses, a parent and child, or siblings.

Weier’s attorney, Joseph Smith Jr., asked why Weier, a good student, did not recognize that the belief in Slender Man and his powers to kill them or their families was a delusion.

“First of all, she was 12,” Westendorf said, adding that Weier was influenced by a website focused on imaginary killers and boogeymen. “If adults have trouble distinguishing fake news, 12-year-olds will, because their brains can’t yet discern or analyze as well.”

Earlier, a detective who interviewed the victim after she was stabbed repeatedly and left for dead in a Waukesha park testified that Geyser had been scaring her beforehand with stories about characters from a horror website.

Leutner became so concerned about the stories Geyser was telling her that she asked her mother if they were real, Waukesha Police Detective Shelly Fisher said. Leutner told Fisher her mother tried to assure her it was all fiction, but she also told the detective that she still was uncertain and wanted to believe Geyser even after she stabbed her, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Jurors will determine whether Weier was mentally ill and therefore not criminally responsible at the time. Geyser, who did the actual…

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