Last week, a young man of 19 was beaten to death, and his 17-year-old brother was beaten senseless, in the sanctuary of the Word of Life Christian Church in a small town in upstate New York. Lucas Leonard, the 19-year-old, and his brother Christopher Leonard, were beaten during an “intervention” by their parents and several other church members, in an effort to get the boys to ‘confess their sins and beg forgiveness.’
Yes, there’s lots wrong with those sentences. But then, everything I’ve read about this killing is so very wrong. Here are several examples from various reports on this heinous beating marathon:
From the Olean Times-Herald, a local newspaper in Oneida county, where the killing took place:
“An attorney for the mother, Deborah Leonard, said she felt helpless to stop an “intervention” that spiraled into severe punishment by others at the Word of Life Christian Church. But a lawyer for the father, Bruce Leonard, said the incident stemmed from a family meeting that had nothing to do with the church.”
[It has been said that at least the older son wanted to leave the church/wanted to join the Army; and/or that he (or both boys, still unclear) had attended a pro-choice rally.]
“A timid Deborah Leonard “went along with” others in a church where she had worshipped for years, not anticipating how harsh the intervention would become, said her lawyer, Devin Garramone.
“She didn’t have the temerity to stand up to them and say, ‘You’re not punishing my kid,'” said Garramone, adding that he believed she didn’t cause the fatal injuries.”
Sure, a “timid Deborah Leonard” “didn’t have the temerity” to try to stop the fatal beating. But apparently [read further below] she was not so timid about joining in the flogging, kicking and punching that comprised the approximately 12-hour-long “intervention.” But it just gets weirder and more horrible.
“Bruce Leonard’s lawyer, Donald Gerace, said the episode “could just as well have taken place outside the church.” He said the Leonards had no intention of seriously injuring their son.”
WTF? Other than the fact that it is hideously fucked-up that this happened inside the SANCTUARY of a (so-called) church, what difference does it make where the parents helped to kill their son? Is the father thinking that saying it could have taken place anywhere somehow exonerates him or mitigates his crime?
“Devoted to the church, spiritual leader Traci Irwin and pastor Tiffanie Irwin, members often “wait to be told what to do,” [New Hartford Police Chief Michael] Inserra said. After the attack, the beating victims’ relatives wouldn’t tell officers where to find the injured Christopher Leonard, who ultimately was located on the church’s second floor, the chief said.”
If “the beating victims’ relatives” don’t get an “Obstruction of Justice” or “Obstruction of an Investigation” charge added to the other charges, I’ll be very disappointed.
Then we have these bits from the New York Times’ article about the killing:
The teenagers’ parents, Bruce T. Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, who live in nearby Clayville, have been arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter in their son’s death. Four other church members, including the teenagers’ half sister, Sarah Ferguson, 33, were also arrested and face felony assault charges.
[This was the first that I heard that Ms. Ferguson was a half-sister; another article says she’s the teens’ stepsister.]
Lawyers entered pleas of not guilty for all six suspects on Tuesday. A lawyer for Ms. Leonard, Devin Garramone, said she had belonged to the church for several decades…“I don’t think this is a clear-cut case of guilt,” Mr. Garramone said on Wednesday. “At first it might look like that, but you have a mother — I don’t think she inflicted these injuries on her son. There were other people involved.”
Could the lawyer get a little more incoherent? Not a thing that he said made any sense. And if “there were other people involved”, it does not make the mother guilt-free.
Of course, being a “church”, this cult is tax-exempt, according to the NYT:
“Word of Life Church, which owns the building it occupies, was incorporated in the 1990s in Oneida County, naming four officers but giving little indication of its mission. A certificate of incorporation filed in 1995 lists Bruce Leonard as a trustee. The church property — valued at $210,843, and sitting on 1.86 acres — is tax-exempt as a religious organization, according to a 2015 assessment roll.”
CNN’s report on the killing includes some weird shit, too:
“Another witness, State Police Sgt. Todd Grant, said Bruce Leonard made admissions about what happened to his son and agreed to write a statement. The interrogation was videotaped. At no point did Bruce Leonard ask about his son, Irwin says.”
Nice concern for your son there, Bruce. What a loving Christian family.
Later, the sergeant said, Deborah Leonard said she had struck Lucas with a cord. When Grant removed a cord from the back of a computer and asked her to demonstrate how she hit him, the investigator said, Deborah Leonard struck a table violently.
Deborah Leonard’s attorney, Devin Garramone, said his client had a stent put in due to a heart condition and requires constant medical attention.
“I cannot imagine my client had anything to do with these injuries, especially in the condition she is in,” he said.
Yes, well, Mr. Garramone, perhaps you should talk to your client again, it seems that her heart condition did not inhibit her, as she demonstrated to Sergeant Grant.
Yet more horror, from an NBC News article:
“A mother and father whipped their 19-year-old son in church with an electrical cord and what appeared to be a belt during a deadly, all-night spiritual counseling session triggered by his desire to leave the fold, according to witness testimony and police Friday.
Church deacon Daniel Irwin testified that he peered through a doorway window in the sanctuary at one point during the more than 12-hour ordeal at the Word of Life Christian Church, and saw Lucas Leonard bleeding and in apparent agony.
“Lucas was rolling himself back and forth on the floor and making a sustained, monotone moaning,” Irwin said.
Within hours, the young man would be dead — killed by blows inflicted by his parents, sister and fellow church members, authorities said. His mother told police the group took turns hitting him and holding him down, state police investigator Jason Nellis testified. Irwin, the church deacon, testified that he got a text message after services ended around 8 p.m. Sunday saying the Leonard family would be part of a counseling session with the church’s pastor, Tiffanie Irwin, who is Irwin’s sister. Irwin said he wasn’t told what the session was about.”
Yet when Irwin “peered through a doorway window” and “saw Lucas Leonard bleeding and in apparent agony”, he never thought to report it to any ‘secular’ authorities? He didn’t think to intervene himself? Does this type of “spiritual counseling” happen often at this so-called “church”? WTF kind of “Christian” deacon is he? WTF kind of HUMAN BEING is he, FFS?!
This is from the Word of Life Christian Church’s website:
Under “This Is Us”:
”Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
Word of Life is mission! Mission is not just something we do, it is something we are. The Great Commission is of highest priority, we sense its urgency and therefore reach out into many countries and cultures across the world. Nations filled with precious individuals are waiting for the Good News. We have decided – they shall not wait in vain! We want to reach them, equip them and send them forth. The harvest is great and the number of workers will grow! – Christian Åkerhielm, Missions Director
Huh? Sounds like they took word-salad lessons from Sarah Palin. So, what exactly is their “mission”, and/or their “Great Commission”? To “make disciples of all nations”?
One creepy detail, from the Syracuse.com website might have the ‘answer’ – or an ‘answer’, anyway:
“One stitched textile was framed and hung on the wall that said, in part, “We have been commissioned through the written word of God to reach out to those who have not experienced the love of Jesus Christ in their lives … Through the systematic training up of saints, our goal is for them to reach out confidently, sharing the love and compassion of Jesus Christ…”
“[S]ystematic training up of saints…”? I don’t think that this “church” knows the definition of either “saints” or ‘sainthood’ – nor that of “love” or “compassion”, for that matter. None of those words has ever had anything to do with physically beating anyone to death. I think that Word of Life Christian Church, with fewer than 10,000 members, has some serious delusions of grandeur issues. Hopefully, a thorough investigation into last week’s horrifying beatings will help shine a light on this particular cult of mutant hominids that call themselves “Christians.”
Oh, just to be “fair and balanced,” here’s the Fox News website’s write-up on the beatings. You’ll have to read it for yourselves. Surprisingly – or not, perhaps – it’s almost as poorly written and content-free as the Word of Life “Christian” Church’s “Mission.”
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