A Twisted Faith: A Minister's Obsession and the Murder That Destroyed a Church

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"In the early-morning hours of December 26, 1997, in the navy town of Bremerton, west of Seattle, a house went up in flames. In it was a shy, beloved minister's wife, twenty-eight-year-old Dawn Hacheney, and when the fire was extinguished and investigators finally entered, they found only her charred remains. Dawn's husband, Nick. a youth minister at Christ Community Church on affluent Bainbridge Island, arrived home to find his life in tatters. The young minister was devastated by the loss of his wife, and his sentiment was shared by the church

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"In the early-morning hours of December 26, 1997, in the navy town of Bremerton, west of Seattle, a house went up in flames. In it was a shy, beloved minister's wife, twenty-eight-year-old Dawn Hacheney, and when the fire was extinguished and investigators finally entered, they found only her charred remains. Dawn's husband, Nick. a youth minister at Christ Community Church on affluent Bainbridge Island, arrived home to find his life in tatters. The young minister was devastated by the loss of his wife, and his sentiment was shared by the church community." "What investigators failed to note at the time, and what was only revealed years later, was that Dawn's lungs didn't contain smoke - she was dead before the fire even began." So begins a story unlike any other. In time, it would be revealed that Nick was more than just an anguished widower. He was a philandering minister who had been carrying on with several women in his community simultaneously (among them his late wife's mother) in the months surrounding Dawn's death. When one woman found the courage to come forward with the truth, dark secrets of deadly prophecies were revealed by yet another woman.

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  • A Twisted Faith
    A Twisted Faith  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Crime novelist Olsen (Heart of Ice) paints a disturbing portrait of a community undone by its appealing young pastor. On Washington State's Bainbridge Island, across Puget Sound from Seattle, the fundamentalist Christ Community Church employed youth pastor Nick Hacheney, a charismatic if not attractive young man who'd grown up in the area. Hacheney was interested in counseling troubled married couples, but paid inordinate attention to the wives. On December 26, 1997, while Hacheney was out hunting, a fire consumed his house, killing his wife, Dawn. After this tragic accident, Hacheney sought comfort from the community—particularly the women. Soon he was involved in affairs with five women, one of them Dawn's mother, telling each that the sex was part of God's plan. Hacheney's conviction in 2002 for the murder of his wife came only after several of the women confided in others about their liaisons. Using firsthand interviews with members of the community, Olsen tells an unsettling story of a man who committed murder and then used his charm and his power as a man of God to exploit his congregants and satisfy his sexual obsession. Map. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
How one minister sowed heartbreak and homicide in a tiny community. True-crime vet and novelist Olsen (Heart of Ice, 2009, etc.) follows Nick Hacheney, who was convicted in 2002 for killing his wife, Dawn, the day after Christmas 1997. That year Nick was a minister at Christ Community Church, an apostolic congregation on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, where he served as a youth pastor and marriage counselor. In the latter capacity he spent far more time with the wives than the husbands, growing close to Sandy Glass, who claimed to have visions from God about the fates of members of the church community. Such pronouncements were common at the church, whose lead pastor regularly led sessions in which congregants were browbeaten into confessing the smallest moral transgressions. (One woman was ostracized for allowing her children to view an Ace Ventura movie.) Yet not only did Nick evade suspicion for nearly four years after Dawn's death-she was given an overdose of Benadryl and the house was set on fire-he also juggled relationships with no fewer than four parishioners, at one point drawing even Dawn's mother into his web. What made Nick so attractive? Olsen, who conducted interviews with dozens of people involved, is surprisingly at a loss to explain. Indeed, he often stresses that this would-be lothario was a pudgy, ungainly man. The book is structured like a crime thriller, and though the author's reporting on specific events is solid, his simplistic characterizations of the major players make the circumstances seem just as baffling by the book's end as its beginning. The squabbling between a long-term pastor and a newcomer is pitted as a battle between a milquetoast and a holy roller;the women Nick seduced and victimized are described nearly interchangeably, with little color outside their roles as mothers, wives and Nick's toys. Using original documents doesn't help. As pious churchgoers, their letters, e-mails and diary entries are filled with cliched pieties. Olsen's prose too often fails to improve on it. A sordid but strangely bland tale of cold-bloodedness. Agent: Susan Raihofer/David Black Literary Agency
From the Publisher

Tucson Citizen

Olsen takes readers behind the scenes of this fascinating case.
author of A Rip in Heaven Jeanine Cummins

A harrowing tale of betrayal from a masterful storyteller.
New York Times bestselling author of When Men Beco Stephen Singular

Olsen weaves his story deftly, managing to bring alive a wide cast of characters, all headed for and contributing to a tragedy driven by faith.
author of A Descent Into Hell Kathryn Casey

A fascinating exposé of sexual obsession and murder, a cautionary tale of innocence and virtue manipulated and destroyed by the vilest of mortal sins… Great true crime from one of the greats in the business.
Edgar Nominated Author of Mommy's Little Girl Diane Fanning

An insightful exposé of a man of God and a woman of prophecy who manipulate God's will to justify adultery, treachery and even murder.
author of The Road out of Hell Anthony Flacco

Olsen writes the way a surgeon cuts--precisely exposing the personality riddles that lie concealed within each of the players.
Edgar-nominated author of Finding Amy: A True Kate Flora

A horrifying tale of spiritual and physical seduction, and murder…[A Twisted Faith] draws it's power from the strong and subtle hand of a master storyteller.
author of The Past is Never Dead Harry MacLean

A very strange but fascinating journey into the heart of a religious community torn asunder by sex and murder.
Book Reporter

Everybody should read Gregg Olsen's book…What an eye-opener!
True Crime Book

I was hooked on page one…An extremely difficult book to put down.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312360610
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 9.54 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregg Olsen

Gregg Olsen is the New York Times bestselling author of seven previous nonfiction books and four novels. A journalist and investigative author for more than two decades, Olsen has received numerous awards and much critical acclaim for his writing. He lives in Olalla, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

A Twisted Faith

By Gregg Olsen

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2010 Gregg Olsen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-312-36061-0

Chapter One

By the mid-1990s, berry patches and creosote-cured pilings protruding from the waters of Puget Sound were no longer the prevailing features of Bainbridge Island, Washington. Faux châteaus and gargantuan Craftsman-style homes had arisen, as ubiquitous as strawberry farms and shorefront sawmills had once been. For the old-timers, it was a time of boom and bust. Property values had made rich people out of mobile-home dwellers on forested acreage. Weekend beach cottages had long since been razed by Seattle yuppies with lots of money and a scant sense of proportion. Those who grew up on the island lamented that though their property values had skyrocketed, the friendly rural character of their community was fading. Long gone were the days when everyone knew everyone and chatted while they waited for the ferry to Seattle, just across Puget Sound.

Connected by Agate Pass Bridge to the Kitsap Peninsula to the north and by the state ferry system to Seattle to the east, Bainbridge was isolated and insular-which was a blessing, as far as newcomers were concerned. Islanders hated being part of Kitsap County, the poorest of the major counties around Puget Sound. To resist the influence of a county that allowed chain stores like Wal-Mart to take root like so many scattered weeds, the entire island incorporated as a city in 1991.

It was that kind of insularity and attitude that brought members of Christ Community Church close together and, ultimately, set tragedy in motion.

Many of the Christ Community Church faithful were part of the island's old guard. Families like the Glasses, Klovens, LaGrandeurs, and Smiths were of somewhat-modest means. While some were ferry ticket-takers, checkers, housecleaners, or baristas, several, like building contractor Einar Kloven, had their own businesses. Dan Hacheney ran an auto repair shop a few doors down from the ferry landing with service to Seattle. Dan and Suzy Claflin owned a restaurant. James Glass and his son Jimmy were skilled carpenters.

Some congregants, like the Andersons and the Mathesons, lived off the island on tribal land in Suquamish, the birthplace and final resting place of Chief Sealth, for whom the city of Seattle was named. Suquamish was a quick drive over the Agate Pass Bridge. A few miles down the road was Poulsbo, an orderly enclave best known for its Norwegian bakeries and a marina that on a summer's day boasted a rainbow of spinnakers from one side of Liberty Bay to the other.

Raised mostly on the outskirts of Poulsbo, Nick Hacheney came from a troubled family. Observers would later suggest that Nick had been somewhat neglected as a child in a chaotic household, and that it was that lack of attention that had shaped him more than anything else. He was the fat kid without many friends. He was the one who always tried to be outgoing but still managed to be a loner. It wasn't until he picked up a Bible and dug deep into the meaning of God's Word that he seemed to find his place. It was God's calling, he insisted, that gave him strength and shaped every bit of his character. In his family, he became the rock, the point person for every family calamity. When his brother Todd, a drug addict, was rendered brain-dead after being hit by a car on Bainbridge Island, it was Nick who instructed his parents to remove Todd from life support.

"My parents didn't have the stomach for it," he told a friend much later. "But I knew what God wanted."

Nick was seen as the strongest and most responsible member of his family. Nick's mother, Sandra Hacheney, was a fiercely independent woman who ran a home day care and took in foster children whenever the spirit moved her, which was quite frequently. Nick would later gripe that his mother favored his brothers, his sister, and even the foster kids over him.

"I don't think she ever loved me," he told a friend. "Actually, I think she hated me."

For her part, Sandra Hacheney seldom said a cross word about her youngest.

Dan Hacheney always knew his greatest legacy would be his children, especially Nick. Even when he was a little boy, there was no doubt among the Hacheneys that Nick was the golden child. He had a backstory that confirmed it. Dan and Sandra Hacheney told the story often. Nick recited it too, albeit with a sheepish sense of burden.

"You have no idea," he told a friend, "what it is like to be handed over to God."

It was 1970 and Dan and Sandra Hacheney were in a state of terror. Nicholas Daniel was turning a deep shade of blue. As the auto mechanic and his wife jumped into the car and drove to a Bremerton hospital, they were sure the youngest of their four children was going to die.

At twenty-eight, Dan was a rare combination of toughness and gentleness. His hands were never clean, always stained with motor oil from a job that kept food on the table and Sandra washing coveralls. A year younger than her husband, Sandra could be a somewhat sullen figure, given to what some believed were long bouts of depression. She had dark eyes and hair, like Dan and their baby.

Nick gasped for air in his mother's arms and Dan knew only one thing to do. So convinced was he that he couldn't get to the hospital in time, he parked the car on the edge of the roadway.

He began to pray.

"Dear God, don't let him die. If you let him live, I'll give him over to you right now, forever. Please, God, you raise my son! You be his father! Please, God, don't let this boy die."

A moment later, the blue cast on his son's face was transformed to the rosy flush of a healthy baby.

"Thank you, Jesus," Dan said.

Bremerton, the blue-collar heart of Kitsap County, had its positive attributes: decent-paying jobs, cheap housing, mountain and water views at every turn. Kitsap County's largest city was home to a U.S. Navy shipyard, submarine base, and port for aircraft carriers, and for many years that meant nothing more than topless bars, tattoo parlors, sailors on leave, and the women they left behind on the prowl when ships and subs departed for tours of the Pacific. Things had improved somewhat in Bremerton, though it was still "Bummertown" to many, the butt of Seattle jokes. But in 1990 a great irony came to pass when Money magazine named Bremerton "America's Most Livable City." Even locals, proud as they were of the completely unexpected designation by a well-known publication, wondered out loud if Money's editors had bothered to visit the town in person.

Dawn Tienhaara had been raised in Bremerton. Her father, Donald, was a shipyard worker; her mother, Diana, a homemaker. Dawn was the oldest and the only girl in a brood that included three brothers-all named with the initial D. She was a honey blonde with pretty green eyes, a tiny birthmark above her upper lip, and a knack for memorization that, when she was a schoolgirl, took her all the way to the Rose Garden of the White House and a meeting with President Ronald Reagan when she competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Diana Tienhaara was an anxious woman who by her own admission required more love than she could get from her husband, Donald. Diana wanted a happy marriage, but she didn't quite know how to achieve it. Her search for affection and acceptance sometimes brought turmoil. In February 1980, Diana left her husband, daughter, and son, Dennis, to live with the father of a baby she named Daron, whom she conceived during an extramarital affair. After some soul searching and a flood of tears, she returned to the family home on Rimrock Avenue in East Bremerton. She didn't tell her youngest son about his true parentage until he was a young adult. During the difficult times, Dawn lent her mother as much support as a child could. Sometimes Diana would find small notes from her daughter under her pillow. You are great, Mom! I love you.

That Nick and Dawn would fall in love at Northwest College of the Assemblies of God-known informally as Northwest Bible College but celebrated and mocked by some as "Northwest Bridal College"-in Kirkland, Washington, was hardly a foregone conclusion. Those who attended the east-of-Seattle college with the young couple were surprised by the relationship. Dawn was an achiever, after all. She wasn't gorgeous, but she was pretty in a girl-next-door way. Her roommates at the time saw Nick, on the other hand, as a loser-a guy "who tried too hard" and was clueless about it. He was brash and pushy, but Dawn was no match for his everlasting persuasion. Always a little overweight and with his hairline starting to recede while he was still in his teens, Nick was more concerned about the spiritual than the physical. No one would have said he was handsome. And yet, he had a kind of magnetism that some couldn't resist.

Nick proposed marriage to Dawn over Oreo cookies and milk on Alki Beach, not far from her grandparents' home in West Seattle, and the two married soon after, on April 20, 1991. They moved into a place in Bremerton; Dawn found work at the credit union and Nick set his sights on his long-held dream: to be a youth pastor under the tutelage of his beloved pastor, Bob Smith, at Christ Community Church on Bainbridge Island.

Despite being so capable-she was, after all, her high school valedictorian-Dawn surprised many with how quickly she abdicated all decision making to Nick. She appeared to go along with the fundamentalist edict that submitting to her husband's authority was God's plan and the greatest gift a woman could give him. When Nick's decisions seemed foolish, Dawn backed him all the way. If he wanted to take in a troubled congregant, she agreed, although she longed for privacy. When he charged hundreds of dollars in music CDs for church friends on his credit card, Dawn shrugged it off, even though she'd had her eye on a new Jaclyn Smith outfit for work.

Years later, a woman who lived with Nick and Dawn in the early days of their marriage stumbled onto a cache of dildos and other sex toys in the master bathroom of a house they were remodeling on Nipsic Avenue in East Bremerton. Crystal Gurney, a twenty-year-old church member going through a bad patch with a new marriage at the time, wasn't horrified by what she'd discovered. She'd lived a tough life of her own and had seen plenty. Long after her friend's death, though, Crystal grappled with her observation. "It just didn't seem like Dawn at all. Not the girl I knew. I wondered how it was that Nick got her into that."

Chapter Two

All great things start with a dream. Sometimes two. Pastor Bob Smith; his wife, Adele; and their little girls, Kim and Lindsey, joined hands with other members of Bainbridge Christian Assembly to pray and rejoice. A new church was coming. Their church. Tall bigleaf maples and cedars were spared as the ground was sliced with the blade of a backhoe in the construction zone for a church on Moran Road. It was to be a twelve-thousand-square-foot structure that looked Northwest contemporary in its architecture, more like a large new home or even professional offices than a house of worship.

On this day in the mid-1980s, drivers whizzing by on Highway 305, which bisects the island from Agate Passage to the ferry landing, scratched their heads, wondering just what was being built where the ground was broken. A bank? New restaurant?

There was no marker to proclaim what it would be.

Finally, in what would one day prove to be a twist of irony, Einar Kloven, who had volunteered countless hours of labor, made a sign and hung it up facing the highway: NEW PRISON.

No one laughed with more gusto than Pastor Bob, or "PB," as congregants called him. He could take a joke. He was the kind of pastor who'd cry with the hurting, feed the hungry from his own plate, and shoulder the burdens of those who could no longer carry them alone. Growing up in a rural Northwest community had taught him not only to love God but to cherish the relationships that united the disparate. PB and Adele were married after he graduated from Northwest College in 1972. After he'd served as a pastor on the Yakama Indian Reservation in south-central Washington, the young family moved to Kitsap County, first leading a church in Bremerton and then, in 1982, moving to Bainbridge Island to oversee an Assemblies of God congregation.

The new Pentecostal church on Moran Road was the culmination of a dream. Everything was coming together as it had been mapped out, every nail lovingly hammered into place. One hundred Bainbridge area families had joined forces to build a house of God.

Yet PB Smith and his congregants weren't the only ones with a dream that involved the church on Moran Road. Far away, in California, a woman named Pamela Bily had a vision-a gift God had given her on many occasions-that her pastor husband, Robert, and their children would live on the northeast side of an island near Seattle. It was a remarkable and vivid dream. Like putting a pin in a wall map, God had shown her just where it was.

It was Bainbridge Island, Washington.

When Pamela told her husband, Robert, about it, there was only one thing to do.

In his forties, Robert Bily, an exceedingly fit 173-pound six-footer, was a Stanford University graduate who had been a senior manager in his father's cheese-processing and distribution business, a leader in a financially troubled church in San Jose, and an investor and board member of a computer company that went kaput. Each endeavor brought new burdens, mostly financial. He came to the Seattle area in the early 1990s to work with TV cook Graham Kerr, a devout Christian who had achieved worldwide fame as the flamboyant host of TV's The Galloping Gourmet. The two had conversations about marketing a soy-based foodstuff that Robert had developed to feed the Christian masses. There was also talk of books, a new television program, and a worldwide network. But egos clashed and the project dragged on until, like other good-intentioned endeavors that Robert dove into headfirst, it failed.

Along with Pamela and their children, Robert arrived on Bainbridge Island with the remnants of a once-luxurious California life: Persian rugs, a Mercedes-Benz, and stylish wardrobes. Robert was undeterred by any setback. Pamela's dream had brought them there. God had a plan.

He told Robert to work for Him at the church led by Bob Smith.

Robert Bily was an unfaltering proponent of the apostolic approach to Christianity, which sought the creation of new churches made of nondenominational congregants. Robert brought strengths: management skills, a deep understanding of the Bible and how it should be used as a blueprint for modern lives, and the ambition to make the church into something greater than it had been. Robert saw Bob Smith's church as the launching pad for a profound and ultimately world-changing movement. The way to get there was to listen very carefully to God, act upon His wishes, follow His direction, and, above all, understand that being a Christian was more than just believing in the Word of God; it was living it. All day. Every day.

At first Robert taught Sunday-school classes in which he recast some of the themes to better reflect his beliefs that church denominations were divisive and against God's message of Christian unity.

He convincingly pointed to passages in the Bible that illustrated what it was that God had truly sought, and that man-through church denominations-had corrupted the message of God. He pointed to the etymology of specific words, pulling out scriptural passages and historical references. He had a lawyer's mind for presenting his point of view in a conclusive and logical manner.

Over time, Robert went from teaching children to offering sermons. He was powerful and persuasive. When he preached from the pulpit that one of the accepted tenets of the Assemblies of God church-that every Spirit-filled believer would speak in tongues-was in error, he had biblical backup at his fingertips.

"Robert knows better than I do," PB said to a church member who wondered aloud if they were on the right track.

Some members of the congregation were uncomfortable with the transfer of power. Although by this point Robert had been a part of Christ Community for years, it was still seen as PB's church. PB was a gentle and caring man. Robert seemed to try his best, but neither sympathy nor empathy appeared to be in his repertoire. Nevertheless, PB and the church board promoted him to pastor.

Not long after Robert managed a toehold in the church leadership, Nick Hacheney, then in his early twenties, arrived to serve as a youth pastor. It was a surprise appointment, made by PB. Nick and PB had known each other since Nick was a kid. Both men, with almost a father-son bond between them, saw as essential the nurturing of youth in their understanding of he love and power of the Lord.


Excerpted from A Twisted Faith by Gregg Olsen Copyright © 2010 by Gregg Olsen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1.      Although religious cults are usually ascribed to the power of a single, charismatic leader (think Jim Jones and Rev. Moon), there may be some parallels to the story told in A Twisted Faith and other well known cults. Olsen writes of special dietary requirements, social edicts and the ostracizing of members who did not follow the tenets of the church. Did you notice any other examples in the book? Do you consider the congregation of Christ Community Church a cult?

2.      Christ Community Church pastors preached the importance of a woman to be subservient to her husband. Indeed, the church leadership for most of its history was all male. Women were secretaries, music leaders, and daycare workers. Do you think that the male-dominated power structure of Christ Community Church made it easier for the women to be lead astray by Nick Hacheney?

3.      In 1997, Apostle Robert Bily seemed driven to prove that Nick was a philanderer.  The following year, he even went so far as doing a “stakeout” near Nicole Matheson’s house to catch Nick in the act of an illicit relationship. Why didn’t Robert put his foot down and remove Nick from church leadership even when he suspected an affair between Nick and Sandy Glass?

4.      Members of the church claimed to receive prophetic words from God or heard the Lord speaking to them. Olsen writes extensively about Sandy Glass’s prophecies, but several others (Adam Bily, Pamela Bily, and Ken Linden) reported messages from God too. Has that ever happened to you? Do you feel that prophecies are genuine and should be shared?

5.      As Olsen writes it, the dynamic between the church leaders – Bob “PB” Smith, the Apostle Robert Bily, and Nick Hacheney – seemed to propel the events that ultimately cost Dawn Hacheney her life. It appeared that each were either distracted or more concerned with personal ambitions than the wellbeing of their flock. What do you think about the relationship between the leaders and its role in the story?

6.      Why do you think the authorities were so quick to assume Dawn Hacheney’s death was an accident, and move so quickly to close the case? Several people told author Olsen that they suspected Nick might have killed his wife when they heard the news of the fire. Why do you think they held their suspicions rather than communicating concerns to the police? Have there been times in your life when you wish you’d spoken up and shared information you knew?

7.      One of the most disturbing revelations in the book occur between Dawn’s mother Diana Tienhaara and Nick Hacheney.  On page 185, Olsen writes of an encounter between Diana and her son-in-law at a Bremerton boat launch. On page 208, the author recounts an encounter after a late night dinner. This is a startling scene in the narrative, Diana says that she wanted to “be Dawn” for her heartbroken son-in-law by offering herself to him. What do you think it says about Diana and her state of mind? Her character? Similarly, what does it say about Nick Hacheney?

8.      Nick Hacheney was adept at drawing people close. He confided to Annette Anderson that he’d been abused as a child; he reportedly told Sandy Glass that her spiritual gifts were far beyond other’s; he played on Lindsey Smith’s devotion to her family and how they’d viewed him as an integral part of the family. Nick’s charisma, his magnetism, came from his ability to connect with people’s needs. What specific things can we draw from this type of predatory conduct? Was Nick’s physical appearance and persona his cover for his salacious behavior?

9.      Sandy Glass kept the secret of Nick’s “take the land” confession for years. Do you think she would have kept silent forever if Craig Anderson hadn’t scheduled the meeting with Bob Smith and other former Christ Community Church leaders after his wife Annette confessed her sexual relationship with Nick? Why do you think Sandy held the secret of the murder so long? Do you consider Sandy a victim of Nick’s evil-doing or party to it?

10.  In some ways, A Twisted Faith unfolds as a cautionary tale of what can occur when self-proclaimed prophets and pastors discard the checks and balances that come with most well-known religious denominations. In fact, some church edicts concerned several congregants and incited them to leave after the shift from the Assemblies of God to Robert Bily’s vision of an apostolic church. What practices of the church were “red flags” to those who left? Would any have been enough for you to leave?

11.  Olsen reports at the end of the book that all of the central characters presented in A Twisted Faith have returned to church – though some took a lengthy break from organized religion. What does their continuing faith say about those people? Does it speak to strength of conviction and the enduring power of faith, or do you see it as a weakness?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This Author Listens To What We Want

    This book was everything I love in a True Crime book. No long detailed investigation and courtroom drama that only reiterates what we've been told previously. Instead, the author explores how a small community church could be so enthralled with their minister that they would do whatever he told them to do in the name of God. While the main topic of the book is the murder of the minister's wife, the member's of the church play an important role. This book will make you think about how easy it is for a congregation to be taken in by evil. Be sure to check out the website for the book for a discussion guide and the authors website for further discussion posts.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    There is much good about the way the Protestant, Revivalist fa

    There is much good about the way the Protestant, Revivalist faith Traditions “do” church.  In those traditions, the individual is responsible for his/her relationship to God and for how that relationship is expressed in life.  If, however, a person uses the freedom of such a tradition to assert that “God has commanded” certain things to happen, it is also the responsibility of those in that tradition to challenge the validity of those commands.  If the “prophet” (person claiming her/his words are from God) has a strong personality or speaks long or loud enough (or is sufficiently manipulative) such challenges can be quieted with devastating results.Nick Hacheney possessed such personality traits and the folks of Christ Community Church in Bremerton, Washington, suffered the results.  
    Nick Hacheney married the beautiful, reserved Dawn Tienhaara shortly after they met while attending Bible College.  His enthusiasm and passion soon landed him a position as Youth Pastor of Christ Community.  Within a short time of taking that post, he made a deep connection with a “prophetess,” Sandy Glass, in that fellowship. The “prophecies” these two “received” were frequent and vague but were accepted with open hearts by most of the congregants.  When Dawn died in a house fire on December 26, 1997, the church rushed to support their Youth Pastor.  Within a month of this tragedy, Nick was sexually involved with a married member of that Church.By the end of the year, the number would grow to include 3 others, including Dawn’s Mother. When his behavior was eventually questioned,2 years later, it was discovered that Pastor Nick had been “inappropriate” (to varying degrees) with every female (except one) in the church he then served.  By the time he was convicted of Dawn’s murder, two church fellowships were in ruin as a direct result of his actions.
    This book is very well written from the point of view toward exposing the perils of sick religion, unchallenged “pronouncements” in that context and a culture that requires women to unquestioningly be at the service of, and submitted to, the men “in authority over them.”  Mr. Olsen also does an excellent job of portraying how declaring that one speaks for God can be powerful weapon in the hands of unscrupulous users (which has ALWAYS been the case).  Had any of the women found the power, or had been empowered, to speak their own truth-to-power, much of the destruction they suffered would not have occurred and it is possible the death of Dawn Hacheney would have been averted. It is when they do begin to speak their Truth that the destruction ends.  
    The story does not glorify a crime or a criminal. The majority of it is focused on the peripheral players who were as victimized almost as much as was Dawn.  The language is frequently graphic and the description of the crime scene, including the victim, is detailed.
    When any abuse, especially sexual abuse, occurs in any setting, it is tragic.  When the abuse occurs within the context of a trusted community (religious group, civic organization, sports teams, etc.) it cause all such groups to be suspect.  Hopefully, the more such crimes are exposed, the more power everyone will have to speak up when something seems “not right” rather than remain silent for fear of being wrong.  The cost of silence when there is harm being done is paid in human suffering.  The cost of questioning suspected abuse and being wrong is an apology.  The tally sheet seems to be obvious.  

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2010

    Fascinating case

    On December 26, 1997, near the affluent community of Bainbridge Island off the coast of Seattle, a house went up in flames. In it was the shy, beloved minister's wife Dawn Hacheney. When the fire was extinguished, investigators found only her charred remains. Her husband Nick was visibly devastated by the loss. Even though there was evidence that she was dead before the fire started, her death was ruled accidental; even though some speculated that Nick had killed her, there was minimal investigation into the fire and Dawn's death.

    As I discovered with the last Gregg Olsen True Crime account I read, he goes into considerable detail when he writes. His attention to the facts is meticulous and his research is extensive. Reading one of his books is like being lead through a path in the woods, a path with twists and turns, rocks and branches in the path, and holding your hand is a careful gentle guide that doesn't want you to miss a step or stub your toe. Every so often, Gregg gives you a flash of what the future holds, but it just that, a brief glance and you are back to examining events in a chronological order.

    Nick Hacheney was the youth minister, marriage counselor in the church and claimed to receive messages and direction from God. The truth is, he was a philanderer and a murderer and in this account the layers of his deception are pulled away. Many lives and families were damaged by his actions, a community left to pick up the many pieces broken away.

    This book is different from most I've read in that Gregg doesn't cover the investigation or trial. I didn't miss it, since the trail was mainly the testimony of one woman, it would most likely have been a repetition of what was already covered in the book. Despite that it is a fascinating account that covers the lives of everyone involved without being boring or repetitious.

    I got this as an e-book and there were no pictures in it. I have been told there are pictures in the print version.

    I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to true crime fans.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer


    This book was really very slow moving. I finished the book but found it a chore to do so. There wasn't enough "story" for the book, it was mostly filler.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2010

    A Twisted Faith review

    The author did a great job throughout the book of creating suspense for the reader. In the end, however, the suspense was left unfulfilled. The final section, Judgement Day, was very short and ended abruptly. The book would have been better if the author expanded on the trial, investigation and legal proceedings rather than "he finally got caught and went to jail. The End". Overall, it was an average read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2011

    interesting and shocking

    Hard to believe there are people that exsist and call themselves christians

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2010

    Truly a twisted true story!

    As one who witnessed this incredible true story of deceit, sexual deviance, the power of manipulators in the pulpit, and the ultimate crime...MURDER, I can truly say that the facts you read about this story are true.

    The author, Gregg Olsen, did a superb and incredible writing on this difficult, convolutent, and twisted true accounting of an unbelievable story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2010

    A Twisted Faith

    "A Twisted Faith" is the compilation of extensive research into events surrounding the death of a young woman in a close-knit religious community. Olsen skillfully relays the innermost thoughts and intimacies among these people, resulting in the portrayal of circumstances for murder. "A Twisted Faith" is a book that will keep you reading until the bitter end, even though you know she has already died.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2010

    A Twisted Faith

    A cautionary tale that should be read by all those who have lost their faith and found it again.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    Please...find another profession.

    This is the second book I've read by this author. Repetitive, unoriginal, repetitive, boring, repetitive, rehash of the same conversations over and over, repetitive.

    It is ironic that the other book I read by this author was a novel about a true crime author who simply could not make it in the business. Prophetic or confessional? Either way, you do not have the Gift, my friend. Take up another profession so you can pay for those braces.

    As for the story related here, it could have been good in the right hands. Catch the Dateline if you get a chance.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2014

    This was the biggest waste of money and read.  I didn't want to

    This was the biggest waste of money and read.  I didn't want to know about what "GOD" wanted.  I wanted to know why he was doing what he was doing.  Boring boring boring

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    Makes sense

    Conservative "Christianity" is so patriarchal, and teaches women such submission to male "authority" that we shouldn't be shocked by this fascinating, sordid true tale about a pathological preacher who talks his parishioners into squalor and sin by proclaiming his will is God's.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013


    Another olsen winning book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 25, 2012

    very nice

    We loved this one

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2012

    Great book!

    This was just what I look for in a true crime book. Excellent and quick read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 9, 2012

    Very good! Must check out

    This was a very interesting story. It just shows what lengths, some crooked people will use to fool vulnerable people. The reason I wanted to read this book is because of what happened to Pastor and his wife in our town. It was simular to this. The wife died in a trailerhouse fire and the husband escaped. Then married shortly after the wife's death!
    To make a long story short, this book was donated to the library the next day after the fire! Just seemed a little strange. Anyway, this was a good book!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2011


    It is beyond me how these people fell under this man's "spell''. It's a crying shame that Christians don't know God's word well enough to be able to distinguish a lie from the truth. It seems like at least the MOM would have had enough respect for her dead daughter to even think of doing something so atrocious! The behavior of these women were nothing short of animalistic. Not worth the read.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews

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