Williamsport mother and father arrested on child abuse charges

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Investigators say the abuse went on since as early as 1994

WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Two people were arrested Friday after police say they abused eight children in a house for 26 years.

The children were interviewed after authorities say Matthew Zeigler fired a gun out of the window of their home on Northway Road Extension in April while arguing with his wife Christine.

Lengthy court documents highlight decades of alleged physical and mental abuse.

When Eyewitness News asked Christine for an interview outside her home, she called police saying we were causing a disturbance.

“Nonetheless, they are allowed to be on the edge of the road. It’s a township right of way, you’re aware of that,” a police officer said.

The Zeiglers’ eight children are now between the ages of 14 and 26. Police say the abuse ranges from being beaten repeatedly with a leather belt to being forced to sit in a closet without food for days at a time. During the interview, several children said they worked without compensation at the Papa Johns in Williamsport, which their father owned at the time.

We went to Papa Johns. None of the employees would go on camera, but did say Zeigler was not the easiest man to work for.

Both parents are charged with eight counts of endangering the welfare of children. Matthew also faces charges for intimidation of witnesses, indecent assault and more.

A few people we spoke with in the area who did not wish to be on camera said they heard rumors of the abuse. In an interview, one child says she remembers herself and her siblings being woken up at 2 a.m. and being forced to drink white vinegar until they were forced to vomit.

Christine Zeigler is free on $15,000 unsecured bail. Her husband was denied bail.

The Zeiglers’ both have hearings set for December 16.

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