• 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
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (191 ratings)

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Slenderman

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.

What listeners say about Slenderman

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Compassionate and thrilling

If you love true crime, buy this book. Excellent narration, great reporting, and an exciting storyline. I listened to it in one day.

5 people found this helpful

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Disturbing

I couldn’t stop listening. This is one of the most horrific and tragic things I’ve ever heard. So many emotions hearing this play out. It’s remarkable and a miracle Bella is still alive. I cannot imagine the extreme trauma she has suffered. I know this is a divisive topic, but it’s so hard for me to not put so much blame on Morgan’s parents. The red flags they were getting, knowing Matt has schizophrenia and good and well knowing it’s genetic and doing nothing about it seems either completely incompetent or indifferent. Even though I don’t think it was out of ill will, their denial of the severity of this disease holds them grossly responsible. They didn’t advocate for her when it mattered the most. But I’m sure Angie lives with that every single day, which is also tragic. Morgan needed help, and the amount of time she spent in prison not getting proper treatment is shocking. I’m surprised Anissa is out… still don’t know if how I feel about that. She was obviously a very sick little girl herself. Just all around so disturbing and heartbreaking for all the families involved. This story will haunt me forever.

Side note, the narrator was incredible. Probably one of the best I’ve ever heard.

4 people found this helpful

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Attention to Detail

I love true crime, so I was interested to delve into this case. The author is clearly someone who can hone in on details. I appreciated feeling almost ashamed of myself for wanting to get the salacious details and instead coming away knowing more about schizophrenia and how devastating it can be for families of the afflicted. This book was good...I I had trouble stopping listening to go to bed,

The readers voice was a bit too perfect for my taste. I'd rather have listened to the author than to someone who is so technically perfect you feel like you are listening to an announcer on television. However, she did occasionally voice the people in a realistic way, which was great.

2 people found this helpful

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Emotional, complex, and gripping

This was such a surprising and compelling read from start to finish. There was so much incredible nuance and context and detail and humanity woven throughout the crime and case. Kathleen Hale has a unique ability to discover different angles and specifics to focus on -- things I imagine nobody else has seen when looking at the same picture. I found myself walking away with a deeper, more complex, and more empathetic understanding of the story and characters. Highly recommend!

2 people found this helpful

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Great local story

As a Waukesha resident, I was very excited when this book came out. So, I grabbed it as soon as I had a credit.

The book tells the case of the Slenderman stabbing. I found it interesting to hear the author describe my city and what happened here. I never kept up with the case. So, I heard a lot that I didn't know. It will help me to understand the news articles the next time it is in the paper.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent narration

Given writer Kathleen Hale’s unmentioned yet easily googlable history of stalking, I had a hard time distinguishing which of any of her suppositions about Morgan’s and Anissa’s mental health histories were her own projections. Hale interviewed Morgan and her family, but neither Anissa’s not Payton’s families participated. Hale’s exhaustive research couldn’t tell readers aspects of their thinking/feeling. Additionally, she reported Morgan’s thoughts and feelings as factual rather than using journalistic terminology like Morgan said/claimed/ reported.

The narration of the audiobook elevated the book.

2 people found this helpful

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Thought I I knew the story but……..

What a story about an event that i thought i knew! So much great insight showing the lack of understanding in general, about mental illness in our society. Narrator was also very good.

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  • CM
  • 09-18-22

Engaging story

Loved how this was told all the up to the drop off at the end!

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The WHOLE Story!

I loved this. FINALLY, an actual real account of everything that went into this terrible situation. 2 thumbs way up.

1 person found this helpful

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Made Me Scared of Wisconsin

I hope the world hears this story and Wisconsin considers their behavior more. The outrage of the community, the lack of anyone with reason to bring some sense to the discussion and take the focus off of revenge and shock, the presentation of the judge's decisions, all of this story was fascinating. The story is sad for all the parties involved. How young do you have to be to be considered a kid in WIsoncsin and how does institutionalizing someone after you diagnose them with an illness and treat it and see improvements after treating seem justified to anyone? In any case, the book was well presented and, um, enjoyable.

1 person found this helpful