Almost immediately after stabbing her classmate in the woods in suburban Milwaukee over the weekend, Anissa Weier, 12, had some regrets.
For months, she and Morgan Geyser, also 12, had been scouring the Internet for stories about a tall, creepy, blank-faced figure called Slender Man, a fictional bogeyman who they insisted was real and lived in a mansion in a nearby forest, according to a criminal complaint charging both girls with attempted murder.
Weier told a detective she thought she would impress Slender Man and be able to go to live with him by killing someone, the complaint said. She and Geyser singled out a classmate in February and began making detailed, ever-shifting plans which they would whisper about on the bus.
On Saturday morning, after having a sleepover with their victim, Weier and Geyser stashed away a kitchen knife and lured her into the woods by telling her they would go birdwatching and play hide and seek.
"People that trust you are very gullible," Geyser told a detective. They passed by a public bathroom and some trees, and then, "Stabby, stab, stab," Geyser said.
But as online fantasy shifted into the real word and Weier heard her victim's screams, she wavered, the complaint said. "I hate you!" the victim screamed. "I trusted you!"
"The bad part of me wanted her to die," Weier told the detective. "The good part of me wanted her to live."
Geyser, the accused accomplice, was not so conflicted: "It was weird that I didn't feel remorse," she told a detective, the complaint said. She later added that it was "probably wrong."
Both girls have been charged as adults in Waukesha County Circuit Court. The victim, whose identity was not released, told the police officer who found her lying on a sidewalk in bloodied clothes she had been attacked by her "best friend." She is now recovering from 19 stab wounds in Waukesha Memorial Hospital.
Doctors treating her said she had wounds to her liver, pancreas and stomach, and that the knife missed a major artery by the heart by only a millimeter, according to the complaint.
Whether the girls truly believe that Slender Man is real is unclear, but both of them described him in vivid detail.
Geyser said Slender Man would watch her and could read her mind. He can teleport, emits radiation that makes you sick and doesn't use computers because they don't work when he's around, she told a detective, according to the complaint.
Anthony Cotton, Geyser's attorney, told an ABC affiliate in Milwaukee his client is mentally ill and should be hospitalized.
"From what I know, we've got a young girl here who has no previous criminal record at all, and if the record is accurate, probably suffers from very serious mental health issues," Cotton said to WISN Television.
San Francisco-based psychiatrist Laura Davies, who works with children, adolescents and adults, said sometimes two children can fall into a syndrome called folie a deux, in which two people can share a delusional idea.
"This is clearly psychotic — not necessarily both of them are psychotic, but at least one of them has to be psychotic for this to occur," Davies told the Los Angeles Times.
From what's been published about the case so far, she added: "This is explicitly not an Internet problem. There's a lot of things I don't like about the Internet, and I'm a big fan of limiting screen time … but this is an issue of, [one of these girls] is really, really way more than troubled."
The case, however, prompted Waukesha Police Chief Russell P. Jack to warn parents in his community, about 20 miles west of Milwaukee.
"The Internet has changed the way we live. It is full of information and wonderful sites that teach and entertain," Jack said in a Monday news conference, according to the Los Angeles Times. "The Internet can also be full of dark and wicked things. ... Unmonitored and unrestricted access to the Internet by children is a growing and alarming problem."
According to news reports, the two girls discovered Slender Man on the Creepypasta Wiki web site, which posts fictional short stories "designed to unnerve and shock the reader." The fictional character is described as a paranormal "creature who would abduct his victims for reasons unknown, and sometimes burns down the place where he claimed his victim."
The web site expressed condolences Tuesday for the families involved, but defended itself in the face of calls for censorship and shutting down the site.
“This is an isolated incident, and does not represent or attribute the Creepypasta community as a whole,” a post on the site said. “This wiki does not endorse or advocate for the killing, worship, and otherwise replication of rituals of fictional works. There is a line ... between fiction and reality, and it is up to you to realize where the line is.”
The next court appearance is scheduled for June 11.
Reuters, Los Angeles Times and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Contributed.