LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — One year ago, most of us went about our daily lives not realizing there was a serial killer walking among us in NEPA.
We’ll meet the people who not only discovered they were dealing with a monster, but stopped him from killing again.
Our work with this story began in early December, right after 26-year-old Erica Shultz was reported missing. A few days after Christmas, her family’s worst nightmare came true. Erica was murdered.
But it was Erica, and the clues she left behind that led investigators to arrest international serial killer Harold David Haulman III and uncover the truth about what happened to Tianna Phillips.
“I’ve never seen anything like him. I don’t think Luzerne County has ever seen anything like him,” Luzerne County Deputy District Attorney Daniel Zola said.
In early December 2020 Zola, got a call from Detective Shawn Williams.
“He said, ‘I’m not sure yet, but there’s a possibility that a homicide case that I’m assisting with in Columbia County, might have crossed over into the border of Luzerne County,” Zola said.
26-year-old Erica Shultz vanished from her Bloomsburg apartment on December 4th.
“She Facetimed me before bed and showed me a Disney puzzle that she was working on with her cat Luna and she said goodnight and that she would talk to me tomorrow,” Shultz’s sister, Emily Corbin said.
Her cell phone records gave detectives a lead. Erica’s phone pinged on Hobbie Road in Luzerne County. Her last communication was with a Harold David Haulman III, but he was texting her off a Trac-phone instead of his regular phone that night.
“And when we mapped it out, you saw those two phones following exactly all the way from Erica’s house, all the way up to Hobbie Road,” Zola said.
They searched the remote area but no sign of Erica.
“We couldn’t find her. What we had to do was we had to find him. We were able to track him to Michigan, that’s where his family is, that’s where he’s originally from. He traveled there for the Christmas holiday and we knew it,” Zola said.
Investigators tracked his every move. With no Erica, and no evidence of a crime, they needed a confession. Their chance came soon after he returned to Pennsylvania.
On December 26th, railway police saw Haulman walking along the tracks in Duncannon. Confronted by the officer, Haulman pulled out a boxcutter and slashed his arm, saying he needs to die for his sins.
“No remorse… Cold. He was almost indifferent to everything,” Zola said.
Haulman said he met Erica online. On the night she disappeared, he took her into the woods along Hobbie Road, where he bludgeoned and stabbed her to death. He showed investigators on a map where they would find her body.
“One of our assistant searchers came across her, and it was right where Haulman said she would be,” Zola said.
Detectives already started to connect him with another case.
“All they had to do was say Tianna’s name from Berwick, and he said ‘oh you know about her too,’ and then he confessed to the fact that he had been there prior and that’s the same place where he murdered Tianna,” Zola said.
Phillips went missing from Berwick in June of 2018 after she too met Haulman online. Her sister Toshia Feaster suspected Haulman all along. But he lied to Berwick PD, and they had no hard evidence against him.
“It’s been a long time coming. I was lead detective on my sister’s case for two and a half years. It wasn’t unfortunately until we lost Erica that my sister’s case got the much-needed attention it should have had from the very beginning,” Feaster said.
Two women dead with no connection to each other. When investigators learned Haulman was suspected of killing another woman, Ashley Parlier in Michigan in 2005, they needed to know who they were dealing with.
“When you look at the method in which he kills, and you read or hear the words and the way he says them, it would be hard for me to believe that there’s no other victims out there,” Zola said.
Haulman is still waiting to be extradited to Michigan where he’s charged with the murder of Ashley Parlier.
The FBI is developing a profile on him that will be cross-referenced with missing persons cases across the country.
Tuesday night, we dive deeper into why investigators say it’s likely Haulman has other victims, looking into patterns that began more than 20 years ago.
Anyone with information that may be helpful to investigators can call 1-800-CALL-FBI or go to tips.fbi.gov.