“It's every parent's nightmare: a child, violently attacked in the woods,” Care2 petition author Alison Perris was quoted as saying in a news release. “Now imagine it had actually happened to your child... and a movie company was trying to profit off her story.”
In 2014, two of Payton Leutner's classmates, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, lured Leutner into a wooded suburban park. Convinced that an online horror character named Slender Man would kill their families if they didn't, one girl repeatedly stabbed Leutner, who was 12 at the time, as the other cheered her on.
Leutner was stabbed 19 times in the attack. She reportedly slept with scissors for months after the attack and still doesn’t feel safe. Her friends Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser left her for dead, but Leutner survived by dragging herself to the road and flagging down a passing cyclist, who called for help.
“This is crass commercialism at its worst. It's a naked cash grab built on the exploitation of a deeply traumatic event and the people who lived it,” Perris writes. “We need to convince the head of Sony Pictures Entertainment to do the right thing and cancel the film's scheduled May release. But we are going to need plenty of signatures if we are going to convince Sony to put basic human decency above their bottom line.”
Both girls pled not guilty of attempted murder by pleading insanity. They have been ordered to serve out their sentences in mental hospitals.
Slender Man is a fictional character created by a then-28-year-old Floridian named Eric Knudsen. The character first appeared on an internet forum called Something Awful in 2009.