Slender Man victim on how pals persuaded her to ‘hide’ so they could stab her

Payton Leutner was just 12-years-old when her two best friends lured her into the woods and tried to stab her to death.

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, who were also only 12, knifed their young friend 19 times in a chilling and bizarre bid to join the Slender Man cult.

The two girls were convinced the creepy internet meme was real and that he had visited them in their dreams.

During police interviews both girls told officers they were convinced Slender Man would kill their families if they didn't murder Payton.

Amazingly, their friend lived.

She staggered from the woods and was found by Greg Steinberg, who also lived in the small town of Waukesha, Wisconsin, in the US.

Now, five years later, Payton will speak publicly for the first time about her ordeal.

In an interview on ABC in the US, which will air at 2am UK time, the now 17-year-old recalls the horrifying events that took place in May 2014.

Despite insisting she has "come to accept all of the scars I have" Payton confesses she still sleeps with a pair of broken scissors "just in case".

And she says she never wants to see or speak to Geyser or Weier ever again.

Weier was sentenced to 25 years to life but has to serve at least three years in locked confinement in a psychiatric institute.

Even if she is released she must be under supervision until she is 37.

Geyser, meanwhile, was sentenced to 40 years to life and must also spent three years in confinement in a psychiatric institute.

She is also being treated for her serious mental health condition and sobbed in court as she was sentenced.

Geyser told the court: "I just want to let Bella and her family know that I'm sorry. I never meant for this to happen and I hope that she's doing well."

She was the girl that Payton was closest too, while she admits that she "didn't like Weier at all".

In the interview she says: "I just hung out with her because I knew that Morgan really loved her as a friend but she was always cruel to me.

"I feel like she was jealous that Morgan was friends with me and her."

Weier and Geyser had been planning the grim crime for months, something that still shocks Payton.

Originally, they had planned to stab her to death at a sleepover they had invited her to but were unable to go through with it.

But they were determined to carry out their twisted plan and the following day took a kitchen knife with them into the woods.

Payton said: "I didn't think much of it, it's just a walk."

But then Weier told Payton to lie on the ground and cover herself with sticks and leaves to hide herself.

It was while she was lying on the floor, defenceless, that the pair stabbed her 19 times and fled.

But they committed one more horrific act by telling their so-called friend that they were going to get help, which they never did.

In her police interview Weier said: "So, we told her we we’re gonna get help, but we really weren’t. We were going to run and let her – pass away."

After horrified detectives pieced together what had happened they launched a manhunt for the missing girls, who were trying to make their way to the Nicolet National Forest, where they believed Slender Man's castle was.

The forest was hundreds of miles from their home town and they were soon picked up by officers.

The two girls were charged as adults for the crime, something Payton believes was the right decision.

She said: "If they had stolen a candy bar, sure that's a child, but you tried to kill somebody – that's an adult crime."

The high school senior admits she still has trust issues, especially when it comes to her friends.

She says trust is a "big, big thing for her" but that she knows in time it will get easier.

Payton added: "I don't think much of them. They will probably go away and fade eventually.

'I'm happy, I have good friends that I trust pretty much."

Even though Payton never wants to see or speak to the friends who tried to kill her, she has a surprising amount of acceptance for what happened.

Still at high school she has big plans to work in medicine because of her experiences.

Asked what she would say to Geyser if she ever did say her again, Payton said: "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 but I do now because of everything I went through."

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