Detectives say girls plotted for months to kill friend

 Neighbors: Stabbing is at odds with girls’ normal upbringing

By Dinesh Ramde
Associated Press

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — Neighbors of two Wisconsin girls accused of stabbing a friend nearly to death say they’re struggling to reconcile the allegations with what they know about the 12-year-olds and their upbringings.

Waukesha County prosecutors have charged the two girls in adult court with attempted homicide for allegedly stabbing a girl the same age in the woods. The girls told detectives they conspired for months to kill the other girl in hopes of pleasing Slenderman, a fictional character they read about on a horror website.

Most residents in their Waukesha neighborhood didn’t want to talk to reporters Tuesday. They said they were still trying to wrap their minds around the allegations. But neighbors who did agree to talk said the girls came from good families and that the parents were responsible guardians who doted on their children.

Emily Edwards, 15, baby-sat one of the girls for about two years. She told The Associated Press the girl seemed to be a well-adjusted child who was never mean or violent. She said the girl never even picked on her younger brother, and if anything acted as a peacekeeper whenever others teased him.

“She was completely normal, nothing off about her. She was very social, friendly, outgoing,” Emily said, “which is what makes this whole thing so weird.”

Prosecutors say the two girls lured the victim into the woods Saturday and stabbed her 19 times, with one of the wounds coming within a millimeter of piercing a major artery near her heart.

The AP isn’t naming either girl because their cases could end up in juvenile court, where proceedings are closed to the public. The victim is identified in court documents only by her initials.

Emily said that as far as the girl she baby-sat, she often saw her family laughing and smiling together. She described the girl’s parents as “such nice people” who seem devoted to their two kids.

Paul Plotkin, another neighbor close to the father of one of the girls, said he was troubled by comments he’s seen online suggesting the parents must have been absent, negligent, addicted to drugs or worse.

“Anyone who knows them knows these are good people, a normal middle-class family,” said Plotkin, 44. “It just goes to show, no matter how hard you try to instill good morals, good values, things can still go wrong.”

The two girls live in the same apartment complex, which has about a dozen buildings scattered in an open layout with leafy trees. About a dozen small children played on a small playground in the center of the complex Tuesday afternoon, as parents watched from a distance.

The other girl’s family posted a note on their front door asking reporters to respect their privacy. One woman said she couldn’t comment because the family asked her and other close friends not to talk to the media.

Another woman who lives three doors away said the family seems close-knit and sociable. Carolyn Nelson, a 71-year-old retiree, said whenever she runs into the family they’re friendly and always ready to lend a hand.

“They’re very nice. I can’t say anything bad about them,” she said. “I just feel sorry for the parents. I just don’t know how they can handle this. It’s just unbelievable.”

Anthony Cotton, an attorney for one of the girls, said he would push to get her case transferred to juvenile court, where more social services and mental health treatment would be available.

“She’s 12 and she has mental health issues,” Cotton said. “There’s no question that she needs to go to the hospital.”

 

Attorney: Girl in stabbing case deserves to be in juvenile court

By Todd Richmond and M.L. Johnson
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin’s tough laws requiring children be charged as adults in homicide cases could mean a 12-year-old girl accused of stabbing a friend won’t get help she needs, her attorney said Tuesday.

Waukesha County prosecutors have charged two 12-year-old girls in adult court with stabbing a friend the same age nearly to death in the woods. The girls told detectives they conspired for months to kill the other girl in hopes of pleasing Slenderman, a fictional character they read about on a horror website.

Wisconsin is one of 29 states in which juveniles of a certain age are automatically charged as adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wisconsin law requires homicide or attempted homicide charges to be filed in adult court if the suspect is at least 10; lawmakers created the provision in 1996 to counter a rise in youths involved with gangs, drugs and guns.

Georgia, Illinois, New York and Oklahoma set the age for some automatic adult charges at 13.

Anthony Cotton, an attorney for one of the girls charged in the stabbing, said her parents called him while she was being questioned at the police station because officers had rejected their request to see her. Police read the girl her Miranda rights but were not required to have a parent or lawyer present if she didn’t ask for them, he said.

Cotton said he would push to get the girl’s case transferred to juvenile court, where more social services and mental health treatment would be available.

The girls are being held at a juvenile detention center after a court commissioner set bail at $500,000. Cotton said that his client’s family can’t pay that and that his first request to move the girl to a hospital has already been rejected. He said he’ll seek a mental health evaluation as a first step toward a second request.

“The younger the child the better the chance” of success, Cotton said. The odds also could improve if Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel doesn’t oppose the move.

Schimel, who is running for attorney general, called adult court a starting point for the case but said one could argue the girls deserve a harsher punishment than confinement until age 25, the maximum in the juvenile system.

“I realize they’re only 12,” said Schimel. “But so is the victim, and she came very close to not seeing her 13th birthday.”

Juvenile arrests for homicide are relatively rare. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, of about 9.3 million juvenile arrests between 2007 and 2011 only 5,640 — less than half a percent — were for homicide or manslaughter. Forty-one of those arrested for homicide or manslaughter were girls.

The Associated Press isn’t naming either girl who is charged because Cotton is seeking to move his client’s case into juvenile court, where proceedings are secret.

Cotton said it could be months before a judge decides whether to move his client’s case. Along with the girl’s age and mental health, a judge would likely consider her family structure, the severity of the crime and any previous criminal record.

He said his client had no previous contact with police and her parents saw no warning signs. But, he added, things that might be troubling in an adult, such as make believe, wouldn’t be in a child.

According to court documents, the girls invited the victim to a sleepover Friday. They stabbed her in a nearby park the next morning and then set off for a national forest in Wisconsin, where they believed Slenderman lived in a mansion.

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