The parents of a young Wisconsin girl stabbed 19 times, allegedly by classmates, say someone has anonymously sent the girl a very special gift: a card and an actual military purple heart.
The card simply read: "The only heart I could find -- be strong."
Though the stabbing victim has been receiving purple hearts made from paper, this is the first military medal that's arrived.
"Our family continues to be so moved by the prayers, well wishes, packages, financial support and purple hearts from around the world," the family said in a statement. "Our little girl has received thousands of (paper) purple hearts from numerous countries and from every state in the United States."
Upon hearing of the gift, Wisconsin Secretary of Veterans Affairs John Scocos said he wasn't at all surprised by the gesture.
"Those who receive this military recognition do so because they have been wounded or killed in an action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces. American service men and women are also moms and dads, uncles and aunts brothers and sisters. It does not surprise me that a decorated veteran unselfishly gave this amazingly brave and courageous little girl something from his or her heart."
Through Monday, a "Hearts for Healing" fund created in the girl's honor had received more than $50,000 in donations.
Prosecutors say the 12-year-old victim was stabbed by acquaintances who tried to kill her in hopes of becoming agents of "Slender Man," a fictional character notorious for stalking and terrorizing children. The accused told investigators they believed Slender Man had a mansion in a Wisconsin forest and they planned to go live with him after the slaying.
Wisconsin law requires attempted homicide cases to start in adult court if a suspect is at least 10, but the girls' attorneys have said they hope to see the charges moved to juvenile court, where more services might be available.