HAZLETON, Pa. -- A man is accused of strangling, beating, and burning his children and stepchildren and the mother of the children is also charged for allegedly letting it all happen.
Court papers say an investigation has been underway since January as to what was going on inside the home of Jamal Williams and Jennifer Collins in Hazleton.
Over the course of the past four months, investigators have learned from the children who lived there that they were dangerously disciplined inside the home.
Jamal Williams and Jennifer Collins both appeared in court Thursday to face the consequences of what police say went on inside their home on Peace Street in Hazleton.
"Absolutely a house of horrors. I mean how can you think anything but?" said Hazleton Police Chief Jerry Speziale. "When you see that being done to children, how could you think it's anything but a house of horror."
Here's the story told in court papers: Jamal Williams was a stay at home dad to four children, between the ages of 10 and 3.
The children told investigators that Williams would beat them, force them to drink hot sauce, or starve them, all to teach the children a lesson.
Court papers indicate that scars were found all over the bodies of the four children who lived inside this home. They say they were made by cigarettes and belts, among other things.
The children told police they would be periodically beaten with color-coated clothing hangers.
"It sickens me," the chief said. "As a father, as a parent, how could you do that to children? If it's true, and obviously, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but it just sickens me to my stomach."
When police entered the home, they found locks on the outside of the children's' bedroom doors. In court papers, Collins says that was because one of the children got out of the house before.
Neighbors couldn't believe what police say the children were dealing with
"They're innocent, you know, like, I don't think any kid should be abused, you know what I mean? It's just how could you do that to a little person, an innocent little person? like I don't get it," Shadira Rodriguez said.
The children have been in foster care since the investigation began in January.
Jamal Williams is locked up on charges of strangulation, abuse, and endangerment.
Jennifer Collins is free and faces assault and child endangerment charges as well.