The night before a 14-year-old girl stabbed her best friend, she cut a smile into her cheeks with a knife. A jury would later hear she did this for two reasons — to look like Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight, and to help her plead insanity if she was arrested. She went online that evening too, to Google or another search engine, wanting to know where exactly to stab someone to kill them. She decided to aim for her friend's heart.
The girl (who is not publicly identified for legal reasons) arrived at the Petersfield School in Hampshire, England, the next morning wearing a bandana, presumably to cover the gashes on her face. She found her friend among classmates in uniform maroon jackets and said she had a present, leading her to a quiet spot on the school's grounds. She'd give her friend the gift like it was a surprise.
"Close your eyes and put your hands out," she said, reaching into her bag. The girl squinted her eyes open right when she lunged, and stepped back just in time — the blade cut through her blazer and shirt and punctured her chest only slightly, near her heart. She ran. It was April 25th, last spring.
The girl would message her friend later to say she didn't care if anyone blamed the attack on the Joker or Columbine. "They didn't inspire me," she wrote, "they motivated me."
In court, the jury heard the girl had been obsessed with serial killers and school shootings long before the stabbing. For a class fashion project, she studied the "cool and edgy" styles (her words) of Ted Bundy and Richard Ramirez. She planned her own school shooting in a journal she would later burn, listing classmates among 60 potential victims. She planned to kill her mother and brother in their sleep but apparently chose her friend out of revenge instead — she said she believed the girl was behind fake Instagram and Tumblr accounts created in her name the previous summer. The girl denied this claim.
Worst school shootings or massacres in U.S. history
Worst school shootings or massacres in U.S. history
Bath Consolidated School bombing in Bath Township, Michigan -- 45 killed (including perpetrator), 58 injured on May 18, 1927
Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia -- 33 killed (including shooter), 23 injured on April 16, 2007
Virginia Tech students gather at a makeshift memorial Monday, April 16, 2007, on campus following a shooting that killed more than 30 people on campus earlier in the day. (Photo by Ted Richardson/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut -- 28 killed (including shooter), 2 injured on December 14, 2012
Residents grieve following a shooting December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. At least 26 people, including 20 young children, were killed when a gunman assaulted the school and another body was found dead at a second linked crime scene, police said. Police spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vance told reporters that the attacker killed 20 children and six adults, including someone that he lived with, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The gunman also died at the scene, and a 28th body was found elsewhere. AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
University of Texas in Austin, Texas -- 16 killed (including shooter), 32 injured on August 1, 1966
Police officer Ramiro Martinez (left) at a press conference after he and other officers shot student Charles Whitman (1941 - 1966) dead after Whitman went on a shooting spree at the University of Texas at Austin, 1st August 1966, killing 15 and wounding 31. (Photo by Shel Hershorn/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado -- 15 killed (including gunmen), 24 injured on April 20, 1999
Police officers gather in front of Columbine High School, in Littleton, CO, before searching the building to insure that it was secure 20 April 1999, following a shooting spree by two masked teenagers. As many as 25 students were killed when two gunmen opened fire on students inside the school building, before turning their weapons on themselves in the rampage. AFP Photo by Mark LEFFINGWELL (Photo credit should read MARK LEFFINGWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon -- 10 killed (including shooter), 9 injured on October 1, 2015
Led by chaplain Toni New, a chaplain for the Billy Graham rapid response team, friends of the late Rebecka Ann Carnes, one of the Umpqua community college shooting victims, embrace each other for an emotional prayer at a memorial service in Winston, Ore., on Oct. 3, 2015. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Red Lake High School in Red Lake, Minnesota -- 10 killed (including shooter), 5 injured on Marck 21, 2005
This Red Lake Net News internet webpage photo captured 22 March, 2005 shows people and emergency vehicles outside of the Red Lake Senior High School in Red Lake, Minnesota. A teenage student went on a shooting rampage at an Indian reservation 21 March, killing his grandparents at their home and then seven people at his school, grinning and waving as he fired, authorities and witnesses said. The suspect apparently killed himself after exchanging gunfire with police. The shooting is the worst US school massacre since Columbine in 1999, police and local media said 22 March. AFP PHOTO/DSK (Photo credit should read DSK/AFP/Getty Images)
Oikos University in Oakland, California -- 7 killed, 3 injured on April 2, 2012
Bodies of the shooting victims at Oikos University are covered with tarps on the ground as police survey the scene on April 2, 2012 in Oakland, California. According to the Oakland Police Department, the shooting suspect is believed to be in custody. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Isla Vista killings near University of California at Santa Barbara -- 7 killed (including gunman), 14 injuted on May 23, 2014
Two men kneel at a makeshift memorial after a killing rampage May 24, 2014 left seven people dead, in Isla Vista near Santa Barbara California May 24, 2014. Authorities said the 22-year-old lone gunman, Elliot Rodger the son of a director who worked on the 'The Hunger Games' killed six people. Rodger also died in the attack. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Poe Elementary School bombing in Houston, Texas -- 6 killed (including perpetrator), 19 injured on September 15, 1959
Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois -- 6 killed (including shooter), 17 injured on February 14, 2008
A memorial to slain students sits near Cole Hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University February 15, 2008 in DeKalb, Illinois.Six people were killed including the gunman and 16 others were wounded after University of Illinois graduate student Stephen Kazmierczak opened fire with a shotgun and three handguns inside a lecture hall. This is the fourth shooting at a U.S. school within a week. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Westside Middle School shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas -- 5 killed, 10 injured on March 24, 1998
Flower covered graveside of slain teacher Shannon Wright who died protecting student during March 24 shooting attack at Jonesboro Westside Middle School by peer gunmen Mitchell Johnson, 13, & Drew Golden, 11. (Photo by Barbara Laing/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
West Nickel Mines School in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania -- 6 killed (including gunman), 5 injured on October 2, 2006
Investigators search the one-room West Nickel Mines Amish School 03 October 2006 in the town of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. According to officials a milk truck driver identified as Charles Carl Roberts IV entered the schoolhouse, let the boys and adults go free, tied up the girls and shot them execution style before committing suicide. Five girls were killed and at least seven others injured. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Santa Monica shooting in Santa Monica, California -- 6 killed (including gunman), 2 injured on June 7, 2013
Investigators look around near the scene of two shooting fatalities and a possible suspicious package after multiple shootings took place at various locations including Santa Monica College June 7, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. According to reports, at least six people have died in the shootings. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon -- 4 killed (2 elsewhere), 25 injured on May 20-21, 1998
A police officer walks past the entrance of Thurston High School 22 May as the investigation continues following a fatal shooting the previous day. Fifteen-year-old Kipland Philipp Kinkel killed two fellow students and injured twenty-three others 21 May after he entered the school's cafeteria with a semi-automatic rifle and two hand-guns. AFP PHOTO Hector MATA (Photo credit should read HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)
Marysville Philchuck High School in Marysville, Washington -- 5 killed (including shooter), 3 injured on October 24, 2014
Women read memorial messages on the memorial wall at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, under the school sign. Taken on 11/1/2014. (Stephen Ehlers via Getty Images)
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She told the jury she wanted to hurt her friend and do something "sensational" but didn't plan to kill her, revealing some degree of confusion: "A very big part of me was disgusted at what I was thinking," she said. "I didn't feel very much in control of what I was doing. ... I didn't want to, I felt I had to, I felt that within myself." She did it to stand out because, as reported in The Guardian, "she was not interested in having a nine-to-five life 'mapped out' for her."
On Wednesday, the jury discussed for two hours and 45 minutes before convicting the girl of attempted murder in a unanimous verdict. Previously, the girl had pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding and possession of a bladed weapon on school premises. The judge adjourned the case but didn't set a sentencing date, speaking directly to her: "You are going to have to come back to be sentenced in a number of weeks," he said. "There are certain reports I need and one of them is a psychiatric report."