Couple arrested, charged after starving, beating 8 children

Couple arrested, charged after starving, beating 8 children

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — A Pennsylvania couple has been arrested and charged with child endangerment, ending a seven-month investigation, police said Friday.

Matthew Zeigler and his wife, Christine Zeigler, physically and emotionally abused their eight children, ranging from ages 14 to 26, since their first child was born in 1994, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wrote in a news release.

Authorities began investigating the Zeiglers in May after Matthew Zeigler fired a gun out of a window in the family home during an argument with his wife. Matthew Zeigler was arrested, and his five children who were home at the time of the incident were interviewed by police.

Content Continues Below

The children told investigators their parents had abused them for years, including “punches to the body, beatings with a leather belt, being forced to drink noxious liquids and being locked in a closet for up to a week without food or water,” according to Shapiro’s office.

The children told authorities their mother watched while their father abused them and sometimes assisted in the abuse. They also claimed Matthew Zeigler had inappropriately touched his daughters on more than one occasion.

“These helpless children experienced brutal abuse over a sustained period of time,” Shapiro said. “The conduct of these parents was reprehensible and we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”

The Zeiglers have been charged with eight counts of child endangerment — one for each child. Matthew Zeigler will also be charged with intimidation of witnesses, obstruction of government function or administration of law and indecent assault.