Neighbors hold vigil for slain Jackson Twp. mother
Colleagues, neighbors and strangers huddled together on a cold, dark Sunday night in Jackson Township to reflect on Diana Ziegler’s life and pray for the 2-year-old son she leaves behind.
Ziegler was found dead at her home on Ledge Drive in Jackson Township on Friday, having suffered multiple wounds from a sword, according to the York County Coroner’s Office. John Ziegler has been charged with criminal homicide in the deaths of his wife and unborn daughter, according to court records.
About 50 people gathered in a small playground across the cul de sac from Ziegler’s home Sunday evening for a candlelight vigil, singing, praying and sharing stories about a woman many in attendance did not know personally.
Ziegler was “the most amazing mother” and was always showing off videos and pictures of her son, said Deb Mayer, who worked with Ziegler at the Dallastown Nursing Center.
Mayer, 62, of Dallastown, said that even though Ziegler worked night shifts at the nursing center, she preferred playing with her son over sleeping.
“They spent every waking moment together,” Mayer said. “She would lose sleep sometimes … because she wanted to stay up with him.”
Co-workers: Mayer last spoke to Ziegler after her shift ended on Friday morning, hours before her death, and said there will now be a “big void” at the facility.
“You never know when you say goodbye to someone if it’s going to be the last time,” Mayer said. “So make it count.”
Ziegler’s co-workers said she was on her way to an ultrasound at 2 p.m. and was excited that her husband would be bringing their son to the appointment. Ziegler was 24 weeks pregnant, police said.
Co-workers, friends and neighbors during a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Diana Ziegler, 25, at Stone Ledge Park near her home in Jackson Township, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. Police say Ziegler was attacked and killed by her husband Friday.
Mayer said her “heart breaks” for Ziegler’s son, who will suffer the most from the loss of his mother.
“It just takes a moment to ruin the life of a whole family by one stupid action that was done in anger, I’m sure,” Mayer said.
Linda Gettys, who also worked with Ziegler at the nursing center, said she was very friendly and outgoing and a very good worker, but her son “was her world.”
Ziegler was going to name her unborn daughter Charlie, Gettys said.
Gettys, 61, of York Township, said she heard about Ziegler’s death just before midnight Friday, when her co-workers realized something was wrong when Ziegler didn’t show up for work.
“It’s just very surreal. It shouldn’t have been,” Gettys said.
Vigil: The idea to hold a vigil came from 17-year-old Lexey Eckles, who lives in the neighborhood. Lexey said she felt Ziegler should be recognized and honored by her neighbors and community.
“It makes me feel really good that there’s good people out there,” Lexey said after seeing the turnout for the vigil.
Between the long periods of silence, members in the crowd led prayers for Ziegler and her son, while neighbor Norman Leach, 63, led the group in several songs, including “Amazing Grace.”
Many in attendance said they regretted not having the chance to meet Ziegler and came to let others in their neighborhood know they don't have to try to handle their problems alone.
Neighbor Chrystal Bixler implored people to reach out to someone if they are having problems.
“If anyone ever needs anything, I don’t know if you don’t tell me,” Bixler said. “I’m sorry that I did not try to get to know her better.”
Having served overseas in the military for several years, Sam Molinar, 36, said he understands how fragile life can be and showed up for the vigil because he felt it was important to support his community.
"The community may be somewhat fragmented — we don't all know each other — but there is a desire for a strong community," Molinar said.
One member of the crowd left the others with a simple message for how to move forward.
“Talk more. Share more. Love more.”