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LISTEN: Without a Prayer: A look inside the cult church where Lucas Leonard was killed

9 hours ago

A central New York father who is serving a prison term for the violent death of his son is expressing remorse for the crime. 

Bruce Leonard is one of nine people charged in connection with the savage beating of 19-year-old Lucas Leonard at the Word of Life Christian Church near Utica in 2015.

He expressed his remorse in a letter sent from the prison where he's being held to author Susan Ashline.

Her new book, "Without a Prayer," looks inside the cult-like church and the mind-controlling leaders who orchestrated the beating.

Ashline said Luke Leonard was trying to break from the church when he was killed.

"Where is he gonna go? He knows nothing; he has nothing," Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara told Ashline. "He's afraid of the outside world. He is not some kid who's interimly gone to college and he's gotten the wings to fly now; he knows nothing."

Ashline said church leaders controlled the actions, thoughts, relationship, and finances of their members.  The Word of Life was shuttered by authorities after Luke Leonard died and his younger brother were attacked there.

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Susan Ashline.

She'll be signing books from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7,  at Casey Park in the town of Ontario.