HALIFAX, Pa. (WHTM) – Police have charged a third person in the abuse of three children who were found emaciated and severely bruised in a Dauphin County home last year.
Erin Eickstadt, 31, of Harrisburg, was charged Monday with aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children.
Eickstadt’s brother and sister-in-law, Joshua and Brandi Weyant of Halifax Township, were arrested in December after police said the couple assaulted the children – ages 4, 5 and 6 – locked them in bedrooms with no heat and starved them for long periods of time.
Two emaciated and abused children were just days from death when authorities removed them from the home on North River Road, investigators said.
Police said Eickstadt forced a 6-year-old boy to eat his own feces while she was visiting the home. They said she further endangered the children by locking them in unheated bedrooms and forcing them to do physical punishments despite their frail conditions.
Eickstadt is jailed in the Dauphin County Prison on $100,000 cash bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 5.
Joshua Weyant, 34, and Brandi Weyant, 38, are awaiting trial on charges including aggravated assault, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, and child endangerment. Both are jailed on $1 million cash bail.
A doctor who examined the 6-year-old boy and his 5-year-old sister told police that if the children’s conditions had remained unchecked, he is certain both would have died as a result of the physical abuse and neglect they received. He said the children also showed clear signs of hypothermia and life endangering low heart rates.
The 6-year-old boy, who had a severe abrasion on his right eye, told the investigators his father had thrown him across the floor as punishment. The children told investigators they were locked in their bedroom at night and would have to urinate on themselves or on the bedroom floor because no one would answer their pleas to use the bathroom, according to the criminal complaint.
The only heat sources in the home were a space heater in the parents’ bedroom and an open stove in the kitchen. The children’s bedroom had no furniture, toys, or carpeting. Investigators were told the carpeting had been removed weeks earlier because it was disgusting and infested with bed bugs, the complaint states.
The 6-year-old boy weighed just 28 pounds, one pound less than his last medical checkup in Oct. 2013, and his 5-year-old sister weighed 27 pounds, four pounds less than her last visit to a doctor in May 2014. Police said all three children had dirt, animal hair, urine, and feces on their clothing and encrusted into their skin and “reeked of a strong odor similar to that of caged animals.”
The children begged investigators and hospital staff for food but could not keep anything down, police wrote in the complaint, and they were so infested with lice that they screamed when the lice were removed.
Brandi Weyant told police the children did not attend school and could not attend school because of their appearance. Joshua Weyant, in his police interview, said he would teach the children at home.
He also told authorities he and his and wife just bought a new vehicle.
Humane officers also removed 18 cats, three ferrets, a dog, turtle, and pet rat from the home.