An upstate New York couple have been charged with beating their 19-year-old son to death inside the Word of Life Church in New Hartford, New York, the Associated Press reports. Four other members of the church have been charged with assault.

Bruce and Deborah Leonard—65 and 59 years old, respectively—of Clayville, New York, were arraigned and charged with first-degree manslaughter on Tuesday before being sent to Oneida County Jail. Bail was set at $100,000 each. A motive was not disclosed.

Their son, Lucas, was brought to the St. Luke’s campus of the Mohawk Valley Health System early Monday afternoon, the Utica Observer-Dispatch reports, with injuries to his stomach, genitals, back, and thighs. (Police could not confirm whether he had also been shot.) He died later on Monday.

The couple’s younger son, 17-year-old Christopher Leonard, was also hospitalized in serious condition, the AP reports:

The investigation began at about 12:30 p.m. Monday when family members brought Lucas Leonard to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Investigators determined that the Word of Life Church was the scene of the crime, and the building was surrounded by special operations teams from state and local police agencies.

Police eventually entered the church, a three-story brick building on a residential street that originally housed a school. Several church members were interviewed, and several children were turned over to child welfare officials.

According to, Joseph Irwin, 26, of Chadwicks, David Morey, 26, of Utica, Linda Morey, 54, of Utica, and Sarah Ferguson, 33, of Clayville, were all charged with second-degree assault. Bail was set at $50,000 each.

All six of those charged in Leonard’s death have plead not guilty.

Bruce Leonard’s lawyer, Don Gerace, told the AP that his client would not make bail but declined to comment further. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday. “We expect to learn more about the evidence and charges at that time,” Gerace said.

The New Hartford Police Department said more arrests are expected.

Image via County Sheriff’s Office. Contact the author of this post: