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Without a Prayer: The Death of Lucas Leonard and How One Church Became a Cult

Without a Prayer: The Death of Lucas Leonard and How One Church Became a Cult

by Susan Ashline


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The horrifying true story of a fatal encounter inside the secluded Word of Life Christian Church, a parish-turned-cult in upstate New York.

Teenager Lucas Leonard made shocking admissions in front of the altar—he’d practiced witchcraft and conspired to murder his parents, among other horrific crimes. The confessions earned him a brutal beating by a gang of angry church members, including his parents and sister. Lucas arrived at the hospital dead, awakening the sleepy community of Chadwicks, New York, to the horror that had been lurking next door.

Nine members of Lucas’ church would eventually find themselves facing murder-related charges. But how did they get to that point? And what made Lucas confess? The full story has never been told—until now.

Emmy-nominated journalist Susan Ashline delves deep into the Leonard family history, the darkness within the Word of Life Christian Church, and what led Lucas, his family, and his community to that fateful night.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643130729
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 08/06/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 1,128,739
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Susan Ashline’s journalism career spans more than 25 years. Her work has received major awards, including an Emmy nomination for a public broadcasting societal concerns program, a first place Associated Press award for general excellence in individual reporting, and a Gold Medal Award for Democrat and Chronicle online excellence. She lives in Rochester, New York.

Table of Contents

Name References xi

Part 1 Origin Of A Cult 1

Don't Go Inside 3

Smooth Pebbles in a Stream 11

Genesis 31

The Gospel According to Jerry 37

Children of the Flock 61

Demon Strongholds 73

Sarah Ferguson 89

Resurrection 95

The New Senior Pastor 105

They Could Leave 127

Exodus 139

A Shaking Is Coming 145

Repent 169

Break Away 177

Part 2 The Crime 187

Crapstorm Coming 189

Code Blue 209

Scrambled. Dead. Period. 221

Unveiled 263

Building a Case 273

Trial 295

Sentencing 349

Bruce Leonard Reflects 369

Afterword 377

Acknowledgments 379

Source Material 383

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