Officials say they allegedly beat their children and locked them in a closet for up to a week without food or water.

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (KDKA) – A Pennsylvania couple has been arrested for allegedly brutally abusing eight children for decades.

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Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Matthew and Christine Zeigler from Williamsport were arrested Friday after a seven month-long investigation. They’re accused of abusing their eight children between 1994 and 2020.

The Attorney General’s Office says it all began when Matthew allegedly fired a gun out a window twice during an argument with his wife. Five kids were home at the time, the AG’s office says, and their 18-year-old daughter was outside.

Matthew was arrested, and when his children were interviewed, the Attorney General’s Office says they disclosed emotional and physical abuse by both parents.

According to a release, the children talked about cruel punishments. They were allegedly beaten, forced to drink noxious liquids and locked in a closet for up to a week without food or water.

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Matthew is also accused of inappropriate touching his minor daughters, “particularly when he was inebriated.”

The AG’s office says the children told investigators that while Matthew usually inflicted the alleged punishments, Christine would watch and sometimes assist in the abuse.

Each of them have been charged with eight counts of endangering the welfare of children, with Matthew facing a slew of other charges.

The Attorney General’s Office says the Lycoming County Children and Youth Services was a key partner in the investigation.

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“We arrested Matthew and Christine Zeigler today for charges related to decades of abuse of their eight children,” said Attorney General Shapiro in a statement. “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.”