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On Christmas Eve in 1985, a hunter found a young boy's body along an icy corn field in Nebraska. The residents of Chester, Nebraska buried him as "Little Boy Blue," unclaimed and unidentified-- until a phone call from Ohio two years later led authorities to Eli Stutzman, the boy's father. Eli Stutzman, the son of an Amish bishop, was by all appearances a dedicated farmer an On Christmas Eve in 1985, a hunter found a young boy's body along an icy corn field in Nebraska. The residents of Chester, Nebraska buried him as "Little Boy Blue," unclaimed and unidentified-- until a phone call from Ohio two years later led authorities to Eli Stutzman, the boy's father. Eli Stutzman, the son of an Amish bishop, was by all appearances a dedicated farmer and family man in the country's strictest religious sect. But behind his quiet façade was a man involved with pornography, sadomasochism, and drugs. After the suspicious death of his pregnant wife, Stutzman took his preschool-age son, Danny, and hit the road on a sexual odyssey ending with his conviction for murder. But the mystery of Eli Stutzman and the fate of his son didn't end on the barren Nebraska plains. It was just beginning. . . Gregg Olsen's Abandoned Prayers is an incredible true story of murder and Amish secrets.


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On Christmas Eve in 1985, a hunter found a young boy's body along an icy corn field in Nebraska. The residents of Chester, Nebraska buried him as "Little Boy Blue," unclaimed and unidentified-- until a phone call from Ohio two years later led authorities to Eli Stutzman, the boy's father. Eli Stutzman, the son of an Amish bishop, was by all appearances a dedicated farmer an On Christmas Eve in 1985, a hunter found a young boy's body along an icy corn field in Nebraska. The residents of Chester, Nebraska buried him as "Little Boy Blue," unclaimed and unidentified-- until a phone call from Ohio two years later led authorities to Eli Stutzman, the boy's father. Eli Stutzman, the son of an Amish bishop, was by all appearances a dedicated farmer and family man in the country's strictest religious sect. But behind his quiet façade was a man involved with pornography, sadomasochism, and drugs. After the suspicious death of his pregnant wife, Stutzman took his preschool-age son, Danny, and hit the road on a sexual odyssey ending with his conviction for murder. But the mystery of Eli Stutzman and the fate of his son didn't end on the barren Nebraska plains. It was just beginning. . . Gregg Olsen's Abandoned Prayers is an incredible true story of murder and Amish secrets.

30 review for Abandoned Prayers: The Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession and Amish Secrets

  1. 5 out of 5

    Slayermel

    The first half of this book was really interesting, as we learn a lot about the Amish life style. The author explains a little of what it was like to grow up on an Amish farm, the dating, marriages etc... Eli Stutzman not only grew up Amish he was also gay. His wife dies in a mysterious barn fire and he takes off across the states with his son living a wild life of gay parties, turning tricks and pornography. This book gets into a lot of detail about the gay scene in the early 80's and gets quite The first half of this book was really interesting, as we learn a lot about the Amish life style. The author explains a little of what it was like to grow up on an Amish farm, the dating, marriages etc... Eli Stutzman not only grew up Amish he was also gay. His wife dies in a mysterious barn fire and he takes off across the states with his son living a wild life of gay parties, turning tricks and pornography. This book gets into a lot of detail about the gay scene in the early 80's and gets quite graphic in parts. Eli's son Danny turns up dead in a ditch and he's not the only body that seems to get linked to Eli. Eli also seems to be a pathological liar. About half way through the book the story begins to drag as we read statement after statement after statement. Some of which I don't even think where worth mentioning as they never come up again in the trial, and also don't seem to hold any real facts. I really enjoyed the story, it's just a shame that it got kind of boring for the last half. The real sad part about the whole story though is, I have to wonder if Danny would still be alive if a lot of Eli's lovers would have come forward and spoken up instead of fearing others finding out about their sexual orientation. Also could Eli have been convicted early if the Amish would have questioned more about Ida's death, and not left everything up to the will of God?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    While I really enjoyed the story itself, I did not care for the writing of this book. I think it could have been cut in half if the author had stuck to the story itself and not the underlying sexual relations of Eli Stutzman. This is the second book by this author I have read and I think his style is a bit all over the place. I think it'll be the last of his I read. While I really enjoyed the story itself, I did not care for the writing of this book. I think it could have been cut in half if the author had stuck to the story itself and not the underlying sexual relations of Eli Stutzman. This is the second book by this author I have read and I think his style is a bit all over the place. I think it'll be the last of his I read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    One of the more disturbing tales of murder that I've read about, it tells the story of Eli Stutzman and his son, Danny. Eli was a drifter, having once been married and a member of an Amish community in Ohio. Eli was quiet and soft-spoken but on the inside he was quite a different person. He could explode with anger and when he had a grudge, he kept it. In 1985, a dead child was found by cornfield in Nebraska, clad only in a blue sleeper suit, and without any identification or anything to indicat One of the more disturbing tales of murder that I've read about, it tells the story of Eli Stutzman and his son, Danny. Eli was a drifter, having once been married and a member of an Amish community in Ohio. Eli was quiet and soft-spoken but on the inside he was quite a different person. He could explode with anger and when he had a grudge, he kept it. In 1985, a dead child was found by cornfield in Nebraska, clad only in a blue sleeper suit, and without any identification or anything to indicate who he was or where he came from. It would take years, but eventually it was revealed that he was Danny, Eli's son, and a tale of true tragedy and neglect that had been occurring for years. This book bothered me on several levels, and it is not at all for the squeamish or sensitive. It does get quite graphic in spots, and I don't recommend it at all for the younger crowd. If you can handle the accounts of graphic sex and violence, fine. To be honest I doubt that I will read another book by this author when I want a taste of true crime. Only somewhat recommended, and three stars overall. For the longer review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/review/Abando...

  4. 4 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    DNF

  5. 5 out of 5

    MAP

    This book is practically a how-to in terms of writing BAD true crime. The book presents these (pretty true-crime typical) questions for us, the readers: 1) Did Eli Stutzman kill his wife? 2) Did Eli Stutzman kill his son? 3) Why did Eli Stutzman kill Pritchett? 4) Was Danny Stutzman abused in some way? 5) What was up with Eli Stutzman?? These are the answers we get: 1) Probably, but who knows 2) *shrug* 3) No idea 4) speculation speculation speculation but ultimately no proof 5) Who knows but would you lik This book is practically a how-to in terms of writing BAD true crime. The book presents these (pretty true-crime typical) questions for us, the readers: 1) Did Eli Stutzman kill his wife? 2) Did Eli Stutzman kill his son? 3) Why did Eli Stutzman kill Pritchett? 4) Was Danny Stutzman abused in some way? 5) What was up with Eli Stutzman?? These are the answers we get: 1) Probably, but who knows 2) *shrug* 3) No idea 4) speculation speculation speculation but ultimately no proof 5) Who knows but would you like to read 20 quotes about how big his penis is?? The book ostensibly lays out the crimes of Eli Stutzman, a former Amishman who left the Amish as a young man, came back, married, and after his wife died in a barn fire, left again to embrace his homosexuality and also his penchant for being a lying manipulative ass. This book is divided into 3 sections: the set-up (split between the sheriffs finding the boy's body and flashing back to Stutzman's Amish childhood), the post-Amish life, and the goings-on after the investigators close in on Stutzman and try him for his crime(s). Usually in a true crime novel like this, you dive into the psychology of the killer, trying to understand the motivations and the point of view of the criminal. Not in this book. It appears we don't actually know any of the motivations, or even the basic chain of events, that actually occurred related to the deaths attributed to Stutzman. So instead, Olsen takes us on a long, wandering journey through Stutzman's travels and sexual escapades. The sexual behaviors appear to have little to nothing to do with his crimes; they appear to exist only as "titillating" filler since we can't actually do what MOST true crime books do and learn anything substantive about Stutzman as a person. Therefore well over 100 pages are dedicated to quotes from former sexual partners of Stutzman describing their encounters with him. Very little of it has anything to do with anything. Yes, some of it speaks to Stutzman's character, or to his tendency to lie, but this is established so many times that much of it is completely unnecessary. Instead, the readers are introduced to things like over descriptive definitions of cock rings and "pitchers vs catchers." (I know this book was written in 1990 but did people really not know these things?) Some of it does feel like 1980s naivete - Olsen spends a lot of time acting like a scandalized southern belle about the fact that men like to take pictures of their genitals and show them to others - which anyone who has done online dating in the past 10 years is WELL aware of. But some of it feels like Olsen is attempting to frame Stutzman's homosexuality as proof that he is a sociopathic murderer. Some of the things that he describes as shocking behavior are only done so because it's with another man. There is plenty of proof that Stutzman was a horrible person, but kissing other men isn't one of them. Finally, the 3rd part of the book is the most disappointing. I pushed through the other pieces hoping we would finally get some answers, but there are none. Instead, we get pages and pages of police interviewing people Olsen has ALREADY WRITTEN ABOUT and quotes them saying the EXACT SAME THING to the police that they had already said previously in the book. It was infuriating, a waste of time, and deeply unsatisfying. Ultimately, this book is like if you picked up a book about Jeffrey Dahmer, but 200+ pages of it are just recollections from his coworkers, and the other 200 pages are the police reports quoting all those people. Again. BAD BOOK. NO BISCUIT.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shana

    It's pretty rare that I give a true crime book a low rating. On the surface, this should have been an interesting book-formerly Amish guy turns out to be murdering psychopath. However, rather than delve into the psychology of Eli Stutzman and his life with his son, this book goes into a tedious description of Eli Stutzman's "gay lifestyle" and uses this as proof of his psychopathology. I realize this book was written 20 years ago and I hope that in the present day, we have figured out that, just It's pretty rare that I give a true crime book a low rating. On the surface, this should have been an interesting book-formerly Amish guy turns out to be murdering psychopath. However, rather than delve into the psychology of Eli Stutzman and his life with his son, this book goes into a tedious description of Eli Stutzman's "gay lifestyle" and uses this as proof of his psychopathology. I realize this book was written 20 years ago and I hope that in the present day, we have figured out that, just like there are good and bad straight people, there are good and bad gay people and your sexual orientation doesn't make you inherently pathological. Eli Stutzman may have been a particularly promiscuous gay man who had no qualms about exposing his young son to some pretty inappropriate things but this really doesn't prove that he killed anyone. Most of the book seems to be based on hearsay from various people and I never got the feeling that this author really got to the root of the story. There were some interesting parts in the beginning about how the Amish live but about halfway through this book, I got so tired of the descriptions of Eli Stutzman's crazy sexual life that I just wanted to finish this book. If you really want a great true crime book, I definitely recommend Ann Rule, who does actually research her books and present a complete story. Gregg Olsen is definitely not in her league.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanja

    The full review on my site can be found at https://amanjareads.com/2020/08/07/ab... Abandoned Prayers has been sitting on my kindle for literal years. Ages ago I read Starvation Heights by author Gregg Olsen and loved it. It's a fascinating story unlike any other true crime book I've ever read. Unfortunately, every other book I've tried by Olsen has fallen flat ever since. Abandoned Prayers is the true story of an Amish man turned outcast single father turned homosexual playboy turned murderer. T The full review on my site can be found at https://amanjareads.com/2020/08/07/ab... Abandoned Prayers has been sitting on my kindle for literal years. Ages ago I read Starvation Heights by author Gregg Olsen and loved it. It's a fascinating story unlike any other true crime book I've ever read. Unfortunately, every other book I've tried by Olsen has fallen flat ever since. Abandoned Prayers is the true story of an Amish man turned outcast single father turned homosexual playboy turned murderer. That should be really interesting. But this 400 page book is freaking dull. I think I figured out why I am almost always disappointed in true crime books. They're not edited to be concise and interesting stories. If the author comes across information at all pertinent to the case they include it in the book. It doesn't matter if it's redundant or boring it's true so it's in there. Here's a tip for any true crime authors: just because you uncover a new piece of information doesn't mean that information needs to be used. In the specific case of Abandoned Prayers, Olsen goes into great detail cataloging our suspect's relationship history. It was like reading the parts of the bible that just list name after name of who begat who. Unimportant, uninteresting, skim over it! Yet a full third of the book is dedicated to going through every man that he possibly slept with. I get it, he was gay. Started Amish, became gay, that's just really not that shocking anymore. Also, I don't think it was completely necessary to continually mention the size of his penis. How does that affect the murders exactly? True crime is a very difficult genre to get right. People want their crime stories to be spicy and scandalous, maybe even gory. But you also can't embellish too much without losing respectability. It's a fine line. Olsen did it well once, and I haven't seen it again. As far as I can tell, because I'm not going to do a whole bunch of fact checking and research on this case I don't care enough about, the book is well documented and comes off as truthful. Don't @ me for not researching either, I'm reading a true crime book so that I don't have to! It hits all of the chronological points of the case and includes a ton of details if that's what you're into. If you like more meticulous nonfiction then this book might be your style. It sounds exploitative of me to say that I wish I had been more entertained by this book about a child being neglected to death. Maybe entertained isn't the word I'm looking for. All I know is that reading it was a chore that I didn't want to finish but I did learn a couple things along the way. 2.5 stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I will not read another book by Gregg Olsen for a few reasons. I was annoyed by page 15, when he defined Rumspringa only as "the equivalent of sowing wild oats" and nothing more. Yet, there were other useless details, such as where the town sheriff went to college, and the brand of cigarettes he smoked. He did a fairly good job of painting a picture, but many of them were totally inconsequential. This continues through out the entire book. He will give several details about minor characters; two I will not read another book by Gregg Olsen for a few reasons. I was annoyed by page 15, when he defined Rumspringa only as "the equivalent of sowing wild oats" and nothing more. Yet, there were other useless details, such as where the town sheriff went to college, and the brand of cigarettes he smoked. He did a fairly good job of painting a picture, but many of them were totally inconsequential. This continues through out the entire book. He will give several details about minor characters; two to three pages of details about a person who is in the story for exactly two to three pages. Some reappeared 50-100 pages later, but he had introduced so many other characters by then that I had forgotten them. Then there was the very off-putting way he spoke of "the gay lifestyle." I kept reminding myself that the book was written over 20 years ago, and tried to be forgiving, but it just got to be too much. He was not out right judgmental, but I thought his feelings were thinly veiled when he described one man as "a gay man trapped in the body of a school administrator." (Why? Because school admins are normal & gay men are not?) The word "gay" also appeared way too often. Even after it was well established that two men were in a romantic relationship, he would say "the gay men did this, the gay couple did that. The gay men had a gay party & watched gay porn." Enough already. We get it! I doubt he would have said "the straight couple had a straight party." He also jumped around a lot for the first half of the book. In one chapter, it was 1979, in the next it was 1985, then 1975. Some authors can do this quite effectively, but it didn't work in this book. It was irritating. Another flaw was the sensationalism of the publishing company. It boasted "eight pages of unforgettable photos!" Umm, one was of a burned down barn, another of a re-built barn, one of the main character playing a guitar as a teenager, and one of his little boy in a cowboy costume. I finished the book only hours ago, and have already forgotten the others. The story itself is interesting, but frustrating. It really shows how flawed human beings can be. The Amish suspected the main character of so many things, but they decided to mind their own business & leave everything "in God's hands." (Even when a family member of his bride-to-be suspected him of having syphilis, he kept his mouth shut & watched a young, naive girl walk down the isle & into his arms.) Then when he got out into the real world, many ppl suspected that he abused his child, yet they too kept quiet for for fear of their sexual identity being exposed. The kid had every chance to be saved, but no one stepped in. Very sad. You have to wonder if the father's life could have turned out differently too. Growing up gay must be absolutely horrific in an Amish community. He was also a compulsive liar from a very early age. With some intervention, it's at least somewhat possible that he wouldn't have left a trail of destruction throughout his life.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    I found this book a real slog to get through.A good third of the book seemed to be about the murderers sex life as opposed to the murders themselves.After finishing it I still don't feel like I learnt a great deal about the actual crimes and the ending seemed kind of rushed. One thing that really annoyed me was a one page postscript telling us the main character killed himself after getting parole,no explanation of how he did it.I love true crime but I was left disappointed by this read. I found this book a real slog to get through.A good third of the book seemed to be about the murderers sex life as opposed to the murders themselves.After finishing it I still don't feel like I learnt a great deal about the actual crimes and the ending seemed kind of rushed. One thing that really annoyed me was a one page postscript telling us the main character killed himself after getting parole,no explanation of how he did it.I love true crime but I was left disappointed by this read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vicki Krivak

    First off there was a lot of sexually graphic content that disturbed me. It was a very sad, true story. Although I feel that the actual story was interesting and worth reading it was way too wordy and tended to drag on in places. I found myself skipping pages. What a sad story and life of Danny Stutzman, and the shocking details surrounding his death.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Fishface

    The true story behind the "Little Boy Blue" mystery. Renegade Amishman lays waste his family. I'm destined to re-read this one, in part because the author could never answer the question he asked repeatedly through the story: WHY??? On a second reading, 20 years later, I could hardly believe how much weirder this guy was than I remembered. The true story behind the "Little Boy Blue" mystery. Renegade Amishman lays waste his family. I'm destined to re-read this one, in part because the author could never answer the question he asked repeatedly through the story: WHY??? On a second reading, 20 years later, I could hardly believe how much weirder this guy was than I remembered.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

    This book was good, and the narration was fine. But I could have done without this one.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Addison

    (N.b., I made a new edition for this book in Goodreads because (1) the edition I have is a hardcover, but the subtitle on the dust jacket is "The Shocking True Story of Obsession, Murder and 'Little Boy Blue,'" not "The Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession and Amish Secrets," and (2) careful inspection of the book itself reveals no subtitle on title page or copyright page, which says to me that the bibliographic entry shouldn't list a subtitle at all. The cover of my edition is the same as (N.b., I made a new edition for this book in Goodreads because (1) the edition I have is a hardcover, but the subtitle on the dust jacket is "The Shocking True Story of Obsession, Murder and 'Little Boy Blue,'" not "The Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession and Amish Secrets," and (2) careful inspection of the book itself reveals no subtitle on title page or copyright page, which says to me that the bibliographic entry shouldn't list a subtitle at all. The cover of my edition is the same as that of the paperback edition with the "Obsession, Murder, and 'Little Boy Blue'" subtitle.) Short, flippant summary: Even the Amish aren't immune from sociopaths. It is, however, unfair to imply that Eli Stutzman's Amish upbringing had anything to do with his career as a murderer, starting with his pregnant wife (in a staged barn fire, which incidentally also netted Stutzman a free new barn), then a roommate, then most likely two men involved in drug deals with him, and finally his nine-year-old son, whose body he abandoned in a ditch near Chester, Kansas, on Christmas Eve in 1985. It was never proved that Stutzman murdered the boy, mostly because the forensic pathologists who examined the body couldn't determine cause of death. Olsen thinks the boy may still have been alive, although unconscious, when his father dumped him. It was brutally cold that Christmas, and Danny Stutzman was wearing nothing more than a cheap pair of footie pajamas from K-mart. He would have frozen to death before his body even had time to become hypothermic. Stutzman was a pathological liar and sociopathic (forgetting to fake grief when you tell people that your son died in a terrible traffic accident in Salt Lake City is a pretty clear diagnostic marker). He lied his way out of trouble again and again, and when his lies got too tangled, or the trouble got too big for them to contain, he ran. And if people were inconvenient enough to him, he murdered them. Stutzman was gay, and for 1990, Olsen does a good job of examining his choices without judging (although some of the cops who interrogated Stutzman would so be up on charges for the things they said to him); he makes it clear that it wasn't Stutzman's sexual orientation that made him a murderer, a drug dealer, a liar, or an abusive father. Olsen is actually able to tell more of the story than the police were able to find, because the men Stutzman had relationships with, one of whom had a letter that a good prosecutor could have turned into proof of premeditation in Danny Stutzman's death, didn't talk to the police. It was the mid-80s; they were afraid of the cops and afraid to come out. This is the competently written result of a lot of research and legwork and interviewing people who don't want to talk about their secrets, both in the gay community and in the Amish community. One of the things I like about it is the way that Olsen's own anger bleeds through; although he keeps himself out of the narrative, he is transparently infuriated by the way Stutzman treated his son, the pattern of abuse and neglect that culminated in Danny Stutzman's death. Objectivity is important, but so is basic human empathy--empathy that Stutzman himself lacked. Eli Stutzman was paroled in 2005, having served 15 years of a 40 year sentence for the murder of Glen Pritchett. He committed suicide in 2007.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    True Crime -- maybe sometimes I read it just because some of the writers seem to me the last bastion of objective reporting techniques. Although sometimes Gregg Olson stretches too far for those little details that paint the picture, overall his writing style is muscular as well as nuanced. The sordid story of pathological liar and murder Eli Stutzman is seen through the eyes of his friends, family, used and abandoned lovers, and the cops who investigated his cases. We almost get to know the guy True Crime -- maybe sometimes I read it just because some of the writers seem to me the last bastion of objective reporting techniques. Although sometimes Gregg Olson stretches too far for those little details that paint the picture, overall his writing style is muscular as well as nuanced. The sordid story of pathological liar and murder Eli Stutzman is seen through the eyes of his friends, family, used and abandoned lovers, and the cops who investigated his cases. We almost get to know the guy TOO well. Along the way the investigative details highlight some odd corners of crime, child abuse, and murder and societal angles thereof. Without coming out and saying it, this story shows how the fear of homophobic reactions kept some of Eli Stutzman's lovers from sharing information that MAY have helped save his son from his untimely death. Homophobia or the fear of it also caused various reactions in the cops that investigated the cases and maybe even caused one cop to flub the only interview which Eli Stutzman ever allowed to be conducted without a lawyer present. The cases were investigated in the 70s and 80s for the most part, and the book also highlights the problems faced by small town police departments. In the end it seems like Eli Stutzman's character, which comes across not only as a pathological liar but also as a sociopath with possibly a splintered personality, was perfectly suited for the life of conman and serial killer. It seems likely that at least five people, including his wife, child, roommate, and two others fell prey to this madman. The book's promise of "secrets of the Amish" to me falls flat as very little of the book has to do with the Amish faith. Instead, it seems like Eli Stutzman is the type of sociopath that might occur in any family, or in any faith. I'm always interested in the intersection between religion and true crime, but I didn't find that here. I believe Stutzman used his Amish roots as part of his smoke screen to fool people, con people, and make them like him. In the end, Amish murderers are more rare than two-headed beasts, and much more monsterous if this book paints a true picture. Gregg Olson's writing is such that I would definitely try another book by him. He writes not only true crime, but other thrillers including YA thrillers. A good read if you are interested in the dark side of human psychology.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eva Marie

    This is one of the better written t.c.'s out there/ Olsen is one of the better t.c. authors though. This guy featured in this book is just nasty. That's the best word I can think of for him. (Oh, believe me, I can come up with some others but just an overall nastiness is what I get from him and even his look. Ugh.) This poor little boy, not to mention this guys unfortunate wife and "friends"/"roommates"/"lovers" who came into contact with him. I doubt I've ever said this in this situation and I This is one of the better written t.c.'s out there/ Olsen is one of the better t.c. authors though. This guy featured in this book is just nasty. That's the best word I can think of for him. (Oh, believe me, I can come up with some others but just an overall nastiness is what I get from him and even his look. Ugh.) This poor little boy, not to mention this guys unfortunate wife and "friends"/"roommates"/"lovers" who came into contact with him. I doubt I've ever said this in this situation and I honestly feel funny saying it but as sad as this is, I think this little boy is better off. The things this boy supposedly saw and did and had done to him no one should ever have to deal with unless it's as an adult and of their own accord. To be fair, there was no blatant sexual abuse that was ever substantiated but the "little" that was known was enough for me. This man should have been caught when he did what he did to his wife. How do these people slip through the cracks?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    I liked the beginning f this book, but as it got toward the middle, it kind of lost me. The ending left me with a lot of unanswered questions. Not good for a true crime mystery.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    This edition of this book was republished in 2003 (it had originally been published in 1990). It is a very interesting story involving a member of the Amish community in Ohio. The book is very graphic in places, and I would suggest that if you are squeamish at all, you might think twice before reading this. I thought the story was very interesting, although I believe that justice was probably not served in this man's crimes, since he is already paroled for the murder of one man and leaving his s This edition of this book was republished in 2003 (it had originally been published in 1990). It is a very interesting story involving a member of the Amish community in Ohio. The book is very graphic in places, and I would suggest that if you are squeamish at all, you might think twice before reading this. I thought the story was very interesting, although I believe that justice was probably not served in this man's crimes, since he is already paroled for the murder of one man and leaving his son's body in an icy field in Nebraska. The son was nine years old at the time. On top of that, I just googled the man's name and it seems he committed suicide in 2007 where he was living in Texas after being paroled. Besides the details of the man's lifestyle and his probable killings of people, the book is a very interesting look into the Amish and Mennonite communities. (I live near a small town where there is a Mennonite Church, and I see Amish women come and go all the time at shopping places, the public library, etc.) I found the history of the so-called Anabaptist groups fascinating (so interesting that I took it upon myself to research their history, and how they came to be Americans). I thought the author did a great job in this book and I intend to read more of his books I have missed.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rissy

    I was pretty sad that I didn't like this book at all. The story was heart felt and crazy, but the reason I didn't like it was all based on how it was written. Short chapters that were broken up too much, random people that had nothing to do with the case/story at all, kept being put into the story. Like, so what this guy Eli knew/interacted with a lot of people in his life but there were some he just had a conversation with or that he met once and that's it and has no bearing to how he was or wh I was pretty sad that I didn't like this book at all. The story was heart felt and crazy, but the reason I didn't like it was all based on how it was written. Short chapters that were broken up too much, random people that had nothing to do with the case/story at all, kept being put into the story. Like, so what this guy Eli knew/interacted with a lot of people in his life but there were some he just had a conversation with or that he met once and that's it and has no bearing to how he was or what he did. I was grateful that there wasn't too much of the court proceedings like some these books do, it was pretty to the point as to him testifying and what he said which was the same story he had been repeating the whole time pretty much. Just generally, it was terrible, what happened and how Eli was and how he acted but the book it self was hard to follow and get through because of how it was written. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone to be honest.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    If truth is stranger than fiction, why are the books so boring? Goodreads needs another option for books you start reading and can't finish for some reason. In this case I just lost interest. Way too much info on his homosexual encounters and too little progressing the story I was actually interested in--does he finally go to jail for the murders he committed? Also, the sub-title is VERY misleading. The guy was no longer Amish--he was banned and had left the church long before. It's not like the If truth is stranger than fiction, why are the books so boring? Goodreads needs another option for books you start reading and can't finish for some reason. In this case I just lost interest. Way too much info on his homosexual encounters and too little progressing the story I was actually interested in--does he finally go to jail for the murders he committed? Also, the sub-title is VERY misleading. The guy was no longer Amish--he was banned and had left the church long before. It's not like the church conspired to cover up his crimes. Another thing I found really annoying is the author would sometimes head sections with the date the events happened and other times, you had no idea when the narrative was taking place. I think flashbacks can be used to good effect in some cases, but this book just kept jumping around in time and location and it didn't really make sense. Plus there were way too many people to keep track of. Just start at the beginning and tell the story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This is the unbelievable and horribly true story of the life of Eli Stutzman, an Amish man whose wife died in mysterious circumstances in 1977 and then years later in 1985; his son was also found dead. Many believed Eli killed them and this is the story of their deaths and Eli's wild life. Unfortunately, this ends before we find out what happened to Eli at the end of his life but there are a couple of web pages that discuss what happened to him after the book ended. This is the unbelievable and horribly true story of the life of Eli Stutzman, an Amish man whose wife died in mysterious circumstances in 1977 and then years later in 1985; his son was also found dead. Many believed Eli killed them and this is the story of their deaths and Eli's wild life. Unfortunately, this ends before we find out what happened to Eli at the end of his life but there are a couple of web pages that discuss what happened to him after the book ended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lee Husemann

    I read this book quite a while back and realized that I had not reviewed it. This is an excellent book about Eli Stutzman, a gay Amish man who abuses his wife and murders her, sexual abuses his son and then ends up murdering him too. This is such a sad story and is a story that I will never forget.

  22. 5 out of 5

    April Barber

    This book sounded interesting but ended up being disappointing. It was less about the murder of the boy, and more about an Amish man who was mentally unstable and gay. It was slow reading and seemed to be quite repetitive.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katina Cooper

    The story was too long. The author took too many pages to describe certain things and situations. It was also difficult at times to follow all of the characters because so many people and places were involved. This story was not made for a book and may be better as a movie.

  24. 4 out of 5

    SouthWestZippy

    Very good book. Not so detailed that you lose focus but enough detail to keep the story interesting. Hard to read because of the subject.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susieqkw

    Meh

  26. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    This case was just sad. So many people knew Danny was being abused by his dad and not one person called the police to report it. This man pretty much got away with killing 5 people.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emmie

    Where to begin with this book, I am unsure. I got this book from a friend from book club when she was getting rid of some of her books. Since I enjoy a good mystery I thought I'd give it a go. The difference: this story actually happened. Criminal Minds and CSI are some of my favorite shows, so I suppose I expected it to be similar to one of those. Because it's a true story it was far from being like a show. Instead it was a very long newspaper article, like an episode of Dateline in written form. Where to begin with this book, I am unsure. I got this book from a friend from book club when she was getting rid of some of her books. Since I enjoy a good mystery I thought I'd give it a go. The difference: this story actually happened. Criminal Minds and CSI are some of my favorite shows, so I suppose I expected it to be similar to one of those. Because it's a true story it was far from being like a show. Instead it was a very long newspaper article, like an episode of Dateline in written form. It was will written and interesting because of the complexity of the story. Many people are also intrigued by the Amish, and this gives a little insight into their world. The downside of this book is unnecessary and overly graphic details into the life of the man this book was written about. There is some harsh language, but given the lifestyle and nature of the crimes I'm surprised there was not more. Unlike my favorite criminal shows, there was not a satisfactory ending. This gives a much more realistic view of how the legal system works and getting evidence for conviction. While in some respects there is no guessing in others it leaves you wondering what really happened. I can't say if I recommend this book or not. It depends on you really. If you enjoy criminal non-fiction you'd probably enjoy it. But if not, leave it be.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gem

    I had not heard of this case prior to reading the book in spite of the publicity (an article in Reader's Digest along with reports by Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw). This was an interesting book and surprising given that there was no physical evidence against Stutzman in any of the cases he was accused of, only circumstantial. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe Stutzman is a sympathetic figure even though he is viewed that way by many. That said, I do believe it's dangerous to convict anyone of mur I had not heard of this case prior to reading the book in spite of the publicity (an article in Reader's Digest along with reports by Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw). This was an interesting book and surprising given that there was no physical evidence against Stutzman in any of the cases he was accused of, only circumstantial. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe Stutzman is a sympathetic figure even though he is viewed that way by many. That said, I do believe it's dangerous to convict anyone of murder on circumstantial evidence. If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone... that's a scary thought. Unfortunately, it was not his son's murder that Stutzman was convinced of but rather the abandoning of a human body and concealing a death. His Texas conviction was for the murder of Pritchett. Danny was given no justice, poor little guy. The things his father exposed him to, made him do, and then eventually leaving him (dead or alive) on the side of a road in subzero weather is beyond mind-boggling, to say the least There is an update to the uthor's Note dated 2003 which concluded (my edition of) the book Stutzman is now dead, he died in 2007 by suicide.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    3.75 Stars This book was sensational, disturbing, and terribly sad. This sweet baby angel Danny Stutzman endured a terrible life with his mother's murderer, his father Eli. Like Erased by Marilee Strong and Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer but more tabloidy. Note: before reading, check out the summary. If you are not comfortable with learning about anything mentioned in explicit detail, don't read this book. TW: child sex abuse 3.75 Stars This book was sensational, disturbing, and terribly sad. This sweet baby angel Danny Stutzman endured a terrible life with his mother's murderer, his father Eli. Like Erased by Marilee Strong and Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer but more tabloidy. Note: before reading, check out the summary. If you are not comfortable with learning about anything mentioned in explicit detail, don't read this book. TW: child sex abuse

  30. 4 out of 5

    Red In

    Horrible subject matter, but it sure did hold my interest. I wish there had been a DEFINITE cause of death identified for "little boy blue". I will always wonder, how, exactly he died. And I never quite figured out, based on this book, exactly WHAT the autopsy showed in terms of his possible sexual abuse. Horrible subject matter, but it sure did hold my interest. I wish there had been a DEFINITE cause of death identified for "little boy blue". I will always wonder, how, exactly he died. And I never quite figured out, based on this book, exactly WHAT the autopsy showed in terms of his possible sexual abuse.

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