WEBSTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) — Lucas Leonard’s death in 2015 brought international attention to a small town outside of Utica.
The young man upset leaders of a cult there and they beat him to death.
To add to the tragedy, his own parents took part in the murder.
The reporting captured and highlighted some salacious details, but missed much: the history of Word of Life Christian Church, its means of control and context underneath certain allegations.
Susan Ashline, a local writer, did what countless journalists did not.
She spent days pouring over videos and audio recordings and talking with dozens of people involved and from that deep dive she surfaced with her first book, Without a Prayer: The Death of Lucas Leonard and How One Church Became a Cult.
This interview explores some of the themes of the book and motivations of the people involved.