Police unsure what ‘sins’ provoked attack on brothers
Published 10:14 am Thursday, October 15, 2015
NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. — The fatal beating of a young man and the savage attack on his younger brother by relatives and fellow members of an upstate New York church was intended to get them to confess their sins, investigators said, but they still haven’t determined what those supposed sins were.
Police said spiritual “counseling” at the Word of Life church turned into an hours-long attack Sunday night in which Lucas Leonard, 19, and his 17-year-old brother, Christopher, were pummeled with fists and kicked. They suffered injuries to the abdomen, genitals, back and thighs.
Eventually, Lucas Leonard stopped breathing and relatives took him early Monday to a hospital, where he died, police said. Authorities went to the church and found his younger brother, who was hospitalized in serious condition.
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“Both brothers were subjected to physical punishment over the course of several hours, in hopes that each would confess to prior sins and ask for forgiveness,” Police Chief Michael Inserra said Wednesday.
He said investigators were still working on details of what provoked the attack.
The brothers’ parents, Bruce and Deborah Leonard, were charged with manslaughter in Lucas’ death. Four other adults were charged with assault in the younger brother’s beating, including Sarah Ferguson, 33, the victims’ sister.