HARRISBURG Pa. (WHTM) — Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Friday, that a Lycoming County couple has been arrested for emotional and physical abuse of their eight children between 1994 and 2020.
“We arrested Matthew and Christine Zeigler today for charges related to decades of abuse of their eight children,” said AG Shapiro. “These helpless children experienced brutal abuse over a sustained period of time. The conduct of these parents was reprehensible and we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
Matthew Zeigler, 48, and his wife Christine, 50, of Williamsport, were taken into custody this morning at the conclusion of a 7-month investigation by the Office of Attorney General.
The Office of Attorney General obtained jurisdiction over the case in May 2020 after a referral from the Lycoming County District Attorney’s office, which initiated the investigation. The Lycoming County Children & Youth Services agency was a key partner in this investigation.
The investigation into the allegations of abuse began after Matthew Zeigler was arrested for firing a gun twice out the window of their home during an argument with his wife. Five of their children were home at the time, including his 18-year-old daughter who was outside at the time of the gun shots. After Zeigler’s arrest, his children were interviewed, and disclosed emotional and physical abuse by both parents.
The children reported cruel physical punishments, 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. It was also alleged that Matthew touched the buttocks of two of his minor daughters in a sexual manner on multiple occasions, particularly when he was inebriated.
The children told investigators that while Matthew typically inflicted these punishments, their mother Christine would watch and at times assisted in the abuse.
Reports of child abuse should be sent to OAG Safe2Say Something (844) 723-2729 or the PA ChildLine 1-800-932-0313.
Matthew and Christine Zeigler have each been charged with 8 counts of Endangering the Welfare of Children, one count for each child. Matthew will also be charged with Intimidation of Witnesses, Obstruction of Government Function or Administration of Law, and Indecent Assault. This case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Bernard Anderson. All charges discussed are accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty