True Crime Book Review

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


In October of 2015, 19-year-old Lucas Leonard was beaten to death by his parents, sister, and other members of their church. The beating was punishment for Lucas’ admission that he practiced witchcraft, wished his parent’s dead, and had committed other even worse and unspeakable crimes. Lucas’ family were members of the Word of Life Christian Church in Chadwicks, New York. The church was founded by the Irwin family, evangelical Pentacostals, lead by Jerry Irwin. Following his death, leadership transferred to his daughter, Tiffanie. It was Tiffanie who instructed the punishment of Lucas and his younger brother that fateful night.

Without a Prayer introduces readers to the Irwin family, tracing the roots of the Word of Life Church and documenting the church’s transformation from church to cult. The second part of the book follows the trials of the six members of the church indicted for the Lucas’ murder.

Because Tiffanie and her congregants documented everything, Susan Ashline had access to hours of video and audio materials, tens of thousands of text messages, and court documents to aid her reporting. The result is a horrifying and compelling story of the ascent of dangerous religious zealot. This is a must read for true crime fans and those interested in cults and cult behavior.

For more True Crime content, visit our Facebook group, Riverinos.

One thought on “True Crime Book Review

  1. Diana @ Thoughts on Papyrus December 8, 2021 / 4:49 pm

    That’s horrendous. I am not from the US, so I didn’t know the story of Lucas Leonard, but I am now definitely interested in reading this book, thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s