Abandoned Prayers: An Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession, and Amish Secrets
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Abandoned Prayers: An Incredible True Story of Murder, Obsession, and Amish Secrets

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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  843 ratings  ·  55 reviews
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...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by St. Martin's True Crime (first published 1990)
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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...more
Shana
Sep 30, 2012 Shana rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like bad true crime books
Recommended to Shana by: Good reads
Shelves: true-crime
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...more
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...more
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.
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.
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...more
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...more
Eva Leger
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...more
Peter
A disappointing read. Not only do we know what happened, who did it and why early on, but the writing is very disjointed, making even the storytelling uninteresting. Plus, there are WAY to many chapters describing the killer's reckless gay lifestyle in detail. Abandon any prayers for a good read with this book.
Kristin
It was a really chilling book and I can't believe I've never heard of this case before. I notice some reviewers complain about all the detail about Stutzman's sex life, but I think it's relevant. It gives us a really clear idea of the kind of environment Danny lived in and the possible abuse that may have occurred. There were a lot of names and people mentioned and it was hard to keep track of, but it also showed how many people were in his life that might have known something was going on. It's...more
Shirley
This is a case of religion colliding with evil. A “God fearing man” merging with a heart bent on destruction. A hidden soul of darkness. The father of this twisted man saw what he was early in his life. Stood by and did nothing. Teachers of little Danny suspected the abuse. Stood by and did nothing. The outcome was Eli's Son Danny was taught the deviant side of life by the master manipulator who was, in his early part of life, raised in the strict upbringing of the Amish.

Eli was into the world o...more
Alisa
I only read 50 pages before having to give up. The book is boring and choppy; most information is superfluous (judging by the length of the book and the boring descriptions of everyone and their families). It jumps from scene to scene rapidly, which isn't a bad thing, but can get tiring when nothing is happening.
Kalyn
Hard to believe there are sick fathers like this in the world. I wonder what type of person Danny would have been if he lived today. Would he be a monster like his dad or would he have learned from his dad's mistakes. Too bad his mother's family could not have raised him.
Matthew Cousens
This book covers the bizarre story of a compulsive liar as he left the Amish to assume a homosexual lifestyle and most likely left dead bodies in his wake. I found the story interesting but the way it was told to be too dry and drawn out. This was not an entertaining read.
Daisy
The case was interesting but the writing style wasn't what I was expecting. The story dragged in many places, there were too many unnecessary details, and people's names were added without telling the reader who they were and how did they contribute to the case. I only really liked the last 10 paragraphs or so. The writing here was different from the rest of the book.
Marianne Jay
In the spirit of full disclosure, I love Gregg Olsen. I also love true crime books.

Gregg Olsen never fails to disappoint whether he is writing fiction or non fiction.

Writing a review for a true crime novel is hard. I enjoy reading true crime because I always want to know more and in knowing more maybe I can find out WHY someone would commit such an unspeakable act.

Gregg Olsen takes you behind the newspapers and the tabloids and shows you see the WHY....to me, that speaks volumes about a true cri...more
Valerie Kieffer orehostky
Gregg Olsen is a great true crime author. I had the pleasure of speaking to him once and I was impressed with how passionate he is about the cases he writes about. The story moves very quickly in the beginning, but it starts to stall a bit in the middle (which is my only complaint). The book was well researched. I can never truly say I "enjoy" true crime novels. But I do find them interesting and this was definitely one of the more interesting TC novels I have read.
Allison
I always love true crime...or anything that is based off the truth for that matter. This book gives you and insight to a manipulative, sick and twsted man who managed to some how blend in with society to an extent. Enough so that some people who knew him, even though they were a little suspicious of things, would not speak up. He had a way of getting a hold on people that they couldn't resist.

Strange but true, sad but intriguing. Good book all around
Beverly
Another true crime, but I definitely don't recommend this book. First of all, the Amish guy is a homosexual and it goes into too much detail about the homosexual lifestyle - really nauseating! Second, I don't like the way Gregg Olsen tells the story - its too disjointed and hard to follow.

Basically its about an Amish dropout who murders his Amish wife and his 9 year old son and a few others along the way. A really depressing story.
Catherine Kost
Wow... A well written true-crime novel. The research the the author put into this book is evident in the amount if detail included. It is a fascinating story in itself.
However....
At times the detail might be a little extreme.
The details about the gay lifestyle and sex were a little graphic. Now, I am not even close to being a prude, but at times it was a bit much.
That is the reason for 3 stars instead of 4.

Otherwise, a good read.
Marianne Stehr
I do not read alot of true crime, but I am very glad I picked this one up by one of my favorite authors. I read this in one day because I could not put it down. It is superbly written and reads with such a fast pace that you are completely engrossed. I did not know the story of the child therefore for me it was interesting to learn the outcome, if you are already familiar with the story it may not be as page turning.
Ambre
This book again was one which brought to light for me the horror that can exist when religion and other influence work together to rip apart lives and communities. The tragedy of Little Boy Blue and his mother and others who came into contact with Eli Stutzman is compelling to read and I kept having to put the book down and walk away from it. It took me a while to finish to be honest, because I did have to keep walking away.
Barbara Kluver
Gregg Olsen is a really good True Crime writer. This was a fascinating read. There is something about the Amish that makes most people want to find out more about them and their lives and customs. And the idea that an Amish man could be a murderer is out of the realm of possibility for most of us.

This story travels miles over U.S. highways and will always keep you guessing. Enjoy!
Andrea
Very interesting book. No matter what religion you are raised in, there is always evil. Eli got away with so many things, and lives could have been spared if people would speak up, but rather hide their own sexuality than give information about suspicious activities. This book as a lot of gay relation details, so reader beware. Too bad we will never know what really took place.
Love
I read this sometime back. It was one of my first true crime reads. I could not put it down. I was so discusted how a father could do that to his own son. It was hard for me to read, being my fisrt true crime. When it described the sight of the boys body, well that is one image I will never forget. I do not know how police men do this everyday...
Jennifer Barbee
Oct 18, 2007 Jennifer Barbee rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I had never read Gregg Olsen before, but now I am a fan of his. I was drawn to this book when I saw that part of the story took place in Austin, and when I saw that the main character was formerly Amish. This book is fascinating and frightening. It makes you wonder how it's possible for someone to get away with all that the main character did!
Laura
One of my first True Crime books and while I enjoyed it, I don't think I'll be returning to the genre any time soon. The realities are just a little too chilling for my taste. That poor boy... Whatever happened to him, the lifestyle he grew up in was sad indeed, even without his life being cut short. An intriguing but depressing read.
Tammy
Alright I have decided I love Gregg Olsens style of writing in fiction and non fiction. Feeling as if the questions I may have wanted to ask was answered in this book. I need to admit I love to read several types of books but 364 books are my favorite. If you are wondering why, where and how things happen this is the book!
Denise
This was my first Gregg Olsen true crime book, and I found it fascinating to follow the crimes of a former Amishman. In fact, it would not surprise me if he committed crimes that were never proven or discovered yet. Gregg is one of the top true crime writers of his generation.

Amanda
Apr 21, 2012 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: true crime fans
Recommended to Amanda by: Marion
Shelves: true-crime
Such a sad and disturbing story. It was told extremely well, and really let a person see what Eli Stutzman was like behind the facade he often put on. An unforgettable story that will undoubtedly stick with me for a while. Can't wait to read more books by this author.
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Throughout his career, Gregg Olsen has demonstrated an ability to create a detailed narrative that offers readers fascinating insights into the lives of people caught in extraordinary circumstances.

A New York Times bestselling author, Olsen has written seven nonfiction books, three novels, and contributed a short story to a collection edited by Lee Child.

The award-winning author has been a guest o...more
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