Village police arrested a 48 year old Coxsackie man Saturday night and charged him with assault after allegedly attacking a member of the Twelve Tribes group with a baseball bat. David W. Ziegler was reportedly distraught that his wife, Suzy, had begun living with the group some time ago. On Saturday, Ziegler allegedly entered the group’s Parchment Press building on 52 South River Street and began destroying equipment. When a group member tried to stop him, Ziegler struck him with the bat. The victim was identified as George Dufford, 52, of Coxsackie. He was not seriously injured.
The Ziegler family’s two children, a 14 year old boy and a 7 year old girl were also living with the religious group. David Burleigh of the Twelve Tribes said the Ziegler children were with the group with their father’s blessing. He also said that wife Suzy has not joined the group as of yet. “The children are here with the blessing of their father,” said Burleigh. “Suzy has not yet decided to join us. She has come to stay with us to sort out some things.”
The press building suffered $3,000 in damages and the press worker suffered only minor injuries. Ziegler was initially charged with second degree assault and arraigned before Village Justice Matt Kennedy. Ziegler was sent to Greene County Jail and was reportedly released on Sunday night.
The Twelve Tribes is a religious community that resides in the village of Coxsackie. Their members walk away from their jobs, their former beliefs and even their families, if necessary, to follow Jesus Christ, whom they call Yahshua.
Membership in the group can split families when one’s spouse wants to join and the other doesn’t as has apparently happened in this case. Over the group’s history, time has revealed many bitter custody disputes involving children.
Ironically, Ziegler wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the Aug. 13 Greene County News that actually stood up for the group’s right to their beliefs.
In the letter, Ziegler said: “We must not fear and hate these people or use their methods of control to try and fight them. But we should not be misled, by the seeming beauty and order in their community, or by the very real love they have for one another.” “This facade can be a powerful attraction for all good people suffering in a difficult and unchanging world.”