True Crime News Roundup: Teenager Serving Time For 'Slender Man' Stabbing Released

Police named the boyfriend of Gabrielle Petito a person of interest in her disappearance; an alleged Columbine-style attack on a middle school is thwarted; and the first trial connected to the 2019 college admissions scandal begins in Boston.

September 17, 2021
Anissa Weier,15, listens as former teachers testify during her trial in Waukesha County Court, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Anissa Weier,15, listens as former teachers testify during her trial in Waukesha County Court, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Photo by: Rick Wood /Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP Images

Rick Wood /Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP Images

Anissa Weier,15, listens as former teachers testify during her trial in Waukesha County Court, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

By: Aaron Rasmussen

Judge allows the teenager serving time for the 2014 “Slender Man” stabbing to be released.

Anissa Weier, the Wisconsin teenager convicted of stabbing a classmate in the 2014 “Slender Man” case, was granted early release after spending nearly four years in a psychiatric hospital. Weier, now 19, originally was to be in custody until after she turned 37. As part of the terms for leaving the medical facility, she must now live with her father, continue psychiatric treatment, undergo GPS monitoring, and have her Internet usage monitored, People reported. In a petition to the court for conditional release submitted last March and obtained by WDJT-TV, Weier explained she was not done with her treatment, but had “exhausted all the resources available” to her at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute. “If I am to become a productive member of society, I need to be a part of society,” she wrote. Seven years ago, Weier and her friend, Morgan Geyser, both 12 at the time, lured their classmate Payton Lautner to a secluded area and stabbed her 19 times, later telling authorities they did it for the mythological online character Slender Man. Lautner survived the attack. Weier was tried as an adult but deemed mentally ill, and in 2017 she accepted a plea deal.

Two Florida teenagers accused of planning a Columbine-style shooting, authorities say.

Authorities took two eighth-grade boys, ages 13 and 14, into custody after uncovering an alleged plot to carry out a mass shooting at Harns Marsh Middle School in Lee County, Florida. “We were one second away from Columbine here,” Sheriff Carmine Marceno said, drawing a parallel between the thwarted alleged plan and the 1999 massacre in Colorado that claimed the lives of 12 students and a teacher, the Guardian reported. The two boys face charges of conspiring to commit a mass shooting and were being held at a juvenile detention center. Marceno said detectives’ quick action and thorough investigation “prevented a very violent and dangerous act from being carried out.”

Police name boyfriend of woman who went missing on road trip a person of interest in her disappearance.

North Port Police in Florida announced they have named Brian Laundrie, 23, a person of interest in the case of his missing fiancée, 22-year-old Gabrielle Petito, according to NBC News. The couple had been on a cross-country road trip from New York to Oregon that began in late July. Petito’s parents reported their daughter missing on Sept. 11 after they hadn’t heard from her in weeks. She was last known to be heading to Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Petito’s boyfriend returned home from the trip on Sept. 1 and has since refused to speak or meet with investigators as they try to determine Petito’s whereabouts.

Oklahoma parole board panel believes death row inmate’s sentence should be commuted.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended the death sentence of Julius Jones should be commuted. In 1999, Jones, then a University of Oklahoma freshman, was accused and later found guilty of murdering insurance executive Paul Howell. Jones has claimed a high school acquaintance, who was also later convicted in connection to the murder, is solely responsible for the crime and planted evidence in his bedroom, including the gun used in the murder. In a request for a commutation hearing, Jones also argued, among other points, that his defense attorneys during trial failed to call any witnesses on his behalf, according to NBC News. “I believe in death penalty cases there should be no doubt, and put simply, I have doubts in this case,” the parole board’s chairman, Adam Luck, said of the 3 to 1 vote to commute. “I cannot ignore those doubts, especially when the stakes are life and death.” The recommendation will now go to Gov. Kevin Stitt for a final decision.

The first college admissions bribery trial begins in Massachusetts.

The first trial in connection to a 2019 FBI investigation dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues” has begun in Boston’s federal court. Former casino executive Gamal Abdelaziz and business executive John Wilson have pleaded not guilty to accusations including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery in an alleged scheme to buy their children’s ways into top universities through fraudulent means, Yahoo Finance reported. U.S. attorneys charged a total of 57 people in the college admissions bribery case. Admitted ringleader William “Rick” Singer as well as actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and 28 other high-profile parents have already pleaded guilty to charges against them.

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