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York man accused of killing pregnant wife with sword in 2017 pleads guilty to avoid death penalty

YORK COUNTY — A York County man accused of killing his pregnant wife with a sword in 2017 has pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder charges in the deaths of his wife and her unborn child, according to the York County District Attorney’s Office.

John D. Ziegler, 33, of York, entered the pleas to avoid the death penalty, prosecutors say.

According to police, Ziegler killed his 25-year-old wife in January 2017. He called 911 just after attacking her, saying he had struck her with a sword. He then waited in his home on the 1100 block of Ledge Drive in Jackson Township, along with his 2-year-old son, for police to arrive.

The 2-year-old was uninjured and released into the custody of York County Children, Youth, and Families.

Upon the arrival of the first officer Zeigler surrendered peacefully.  The officer then located Zeigler’s wife on the rear deck of the home.  She was deceased.  She was pregnant and the unborn child also was deceased. A Scimitar style sword was recovered near the body.