EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — What started as a missing persons case turned into multiple connected murders spanning 20 years and two continents.
How did Harold David Haulman III become an international serial killer? Why did he target these innocent victims? Luzerne County Deputy District Attorney Daniel Zola talks about the patterns in Haulman’s criminal behavior that suggest there could be more victims.
“When he made that statement, it was loud and clear, this guy kills to kill. That’s by very definition a serial killer,” Zola said.
As investigators dug into Haulman’s past, they learned he killed 21-year-old Joseph Whitehurst in 1999 when he lived in Germany. Whitehurst came from a military family on Ramstein Air Force base, crossing paths in Germany’s nightlife. Haulman bludgeoned him with a log in the woods near the base.
“In Germany, the age that he was at the time he committed this, they treated him as juvenile,” Zola said.
He was convicted of manslaughter and released just a few years later. Haulman said he told German authorities he felt threatened by Whitehurst that night. But he told Luzerne County detectives, that was all a lie.
“He said, ‘I killed Joseph Whitehurst just to see what it would feel like to kill someone,” Zola said.
It was chilling to even the most seasoned detectives, knowing, when he’s deported back to America he takes at least three more lives, including, 21-year-old Ashley Parlier in Battle Creek, Michigan in 2005.
Haulman lived there from 2002-2009 working as a truck driver. He admitted to knocking her unconscious during an argument, taking her to a remote area and bludgeoning her with a log.
Haulman then moved to Perry County Pennsylvania in 2010. He admitted to killing Tianna Phillips of Berwick in 2018 and Erica Shultz of Bloomsburg in 2020.
“He killed her because he had an urge to kill and she was an easy target for him,” Zola said.
The same could be said for all his victims. No real motive, no warning. And after, no remorse. But why did he target these women? They had big hearts and wanted to see the good in people, good qualities someone like Haulman seeks to exploit.
“She was just such a sweet person. Always happy and kindhearted…And the kindheartedness and trustworthiness is how she lost her life, that’s how Tianna lost her life, that’s how Ashley lost her life. They just wanted friends and trusted the wrong person,” Erica Shultz’s mother, Brenda Adams said.
Haulman says he started using dating apps around 2013. He met Tianna and Erica on one called Meet Me. With each of them, he struck up some kind of relationship first, keeping it mostly casual, earning their trust.
“We know the types of people he targets, we know the age range, he’s looking for impressionable young women,” Zola said.
He kills them in a similar manner.
“The efficiency of his killing method is something we’ve also never seen before. It’s not a lot of contact with his victims, get them to where he wants to get them, they walk in the woods, he walks out. Doesn’t take anything from them,” Zola said.
In 2018, Haulman told Tianna they were going to make a campfire when he took her into the woods along Hobbie Road in Luzerne County, the same place he would take Erica two years later. Zola wonders if the area is more significant than Haulman lets on.
“How do you get to Hobbie Road if you’re Harold David Haulman from Duncannon? He claims he just found that spot randomly, with Tianna first back in 2018. Claimed to have no connection to the area. Something I’ve always struggled with, I literally live within three or four miles of the place. My whole life down there and I didn’t even know the road was there,” Zola said.
That’s one of the questions investigators and the FBI are trying to answer.
“From 2005 to 2018 we have this big block of time. Then from 2018 to 2020 you have a big block of time. What was Harold David Haulman doing during these big blocks of time? Is he a person capable of controlling his urge to kill, or was he out killing other people?” Zola asked.
That’s what the FBI is trying to find out now. Next time, we learn more about Haulman and his past in the hope he will point us to more victims when Eyewitness News interviews him face-to-face.
Anyone with information that may be helpful to investigators can call 1-800-CALL-FBI or go to tips.fbi.gov.