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Middletown couple accused of abusing children; mother allegedly gave daughter alcohol

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MIDDLETOWN — A Middletown couple is facing multiple charges after police say their children accused them of beating them, burning them, giving them alcohol, and using drugs in front of them.

Samuel Frank Marrero Jr., 28, and Alicia Lynn Keefer, 30, both of Middletown, were charged after an investigation from Lower Swatara Township Police prompted by a call from Children and Youth Services on Jan. 22.

According to police, officers were dispatched to a home on the first block of Manny Drive after Children and Youth Services reported a case of possible child abuse. A 2-year-old child had allegedly been burned, police say.

Police entered the home at about 4:25 p.m., and encountered Keefer, who was initially “resistant” to allowing an investigation, but relented, according to the criminal complaint.

The boy and a girl, whose age was not recorded in the criminal complaint, were taken to a relative’s home while police investigated, the criminal complaint says.

During a search of the home, police found a suspected marijuana pipe, a glass bong with visible marijuana residue, two scales, and several large knives in the living room, the criminal complaint states. A search of the couple’s bedroom produced more suspected drug paraphernalia, suspected marijuana, and a bag with a 9mm Glock 19 handgun inside, police say. The handgun was reported stolen out of Lower Allen Township four years earlier.

Keefer told police the items belonged to Marrero, police say. When police contacted Marrero by phone, he denied owning any of the items found.

Keefer was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, police say.

Marrero later turned himself into police, according the the criminal complaint. He said he collected the knives from places where people had been evicted, “in preparation for something like the ‘Walking Dead’ (a TV show based on zombies),” according to the criminal complaint. He said a friend gave him the gun in exchange for a vaporizer, but had since lost the friend’s contact information, police say.

On Jan. 31, after a custody hearing, police were made aware of abuse allegations the couple’s children gave to Children and Youth Services. According to police, the children said they had been beaten with a black Gucci belt, sometimes bad enough to break the skin, and sometimes to the point where they couldn’t breathe. Once child said the beatings with a belt happened “all the time,” according to the criminal complaint.

In addition, the 2-year-old boy reported his father had burned his foot, which prompted the initial report to Children and Youth Services.

The children also demonstrated how the couple would use drugs in front of them, police say. Using Play-Doh, the children simulated how their parents rolled “buds” into a joint and simulated smoking it. They also used Play-Doh to simulate how their parents put objects up their nose to sniff white powder, the criminal complaint says.

One child also said her mother allowed her to drink alcohol, reporting it tasted “like mint.”

Police say the child appeared to have been coached on what to say, because at times she would say the interviewers were making things up, and that she herself “lies all the time.”

Police contacted the relative the children were staying with, who told them the couple had visited with the children prior to the interview.

Marrero, 28, was charged with aggravated assault, strangulation, intimidation of a witness or victim, receiving stolen property, possession of a firearm with altered serial number, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, and possession of drug paraphernalia, the criminal complaint says.

Keefer, 30, was charged with endangering the welfare of children and corruption of minors.