Two teenage brothers brutally beaten in church in an effort to get them to confess their sins
NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. - Two teenage brothers were brutally beaten in church — one fatally — in an effort by their parents, sister and other members to get them to confess their sins, police said Wednesday in a case involving an insular congregation that had sparked gossip and suspicion among neighbors.
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, authorities said. They suffered injuries to the abdomen, genitals, back and thighs.
Eventually, Lucas 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.
"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.
He said investigators have not determined what the supposed sins were.