On December 6, 2020, Erica Shultz went missing from her home in Luzerne County. The 24-year-old had not been heard from for a couple of days and when she failed to show up to her shift at the grocery store she worked at, her sister filed a missing person report with the local Bloomsburg police. Erica, who was considered vulnerable as she was autistic and functioned at the level of a 13-year-old, suffered from diabetes and hadn’t taken her medication. She also left her support pet unattended without food. Her loved ones and co-workers were understandably concerned, and it was out of character for the missing woman to cease contact and neglect to show up for work without calling.
Harold D. Haulman III, 42, became a person of interest in the case when cell phone records showed he had made multiple calls to the missing woman leading up to her disappearance. The final text Miss Shultz received before she went missing, both sent from Haulman’s device read “knock knock” and “Surprise”, suggesting the man had shown up to her home.
Agents traced Haulman to Michigan, where they brought him in for an interview on December 23. The suspect neglected to show up to a follow-up interview the next day, however, the FBI managed to track him down on December 25 via a GPS tracker they had clandestinely affixed to his 1995 Ford Windstar, and pin-pointed his position at Duncannon, Pennsylvania, where his wife is known to reside. Reports state he sent his wife a text message that day informing her that he was making a decision that would be “better for everyone” and that she no longer had reason to fear him. He also told her he was in love with her and was sorry that their marriage failed.
Although Haulman is married he lived a transient lifestyle and moved around often. His last address on record was Perry County, Pennsylvania.
He had connected with Miss Shultz via the Meet Me dating app and didn’t reveal his real identity to the victim, instead operating under the alias "Dave". The missing woman was registered to various dating apps where she conversed with several men. Phone records showed both Shultz’ and Haulman’s cell phones were at the missing woman’s Bloomsburg home at 400 Railroad Street, before going west down I-80 towards Milton on December 4, just two days before the 24-year-old was reported missing.
Shultz had an older cell-phone that she still used. Police accessed the cell records and discovered communications between Shultz and Haulman discussing a meeting on November 14. Surveillance footage from Schultz workplace showed her getting into a 1995 Ford Windstar.
Erica had talked to her friends about a potential date with a man named Dave that she had been talking to online. She confided in one friend that she was apprehensive about meeting a stranger but would see how it went. She added that Dave had told her he wanted her to run off with him.
Haulman would later tell police that they had met before and slept together on one occasion before Shultz disappearance.
Harold Haulman was discovered walking along a railway track on boxing day, he had self-harm wounds on his arms and reportedly told an officer that he wanted to kill himself and needed to die for his sins.
The suspect was admitted to a local hospital where he allegedly confessed to the murder of Erica Shultz. He told officers that the pair were walking in a wooded area of Butler Township when he struck her across the head with a mallet more than ten times, before stabbing her repeatedly with a 3inch kitchen knife. He then disposed of the murder weapons along with the victim’s cell phone. Reports state he told police that after killing the victim he fled the scene and drove to a truck stop to shower.
He then requested his glasses and a cell phone where he opened Google maps to show police the exact location of the body. Shultz’ remains were discovered near Hobbie Road, just off the I-80 interstate. The body displayed injuries indicative of trauma to the head and defensive wounds. When asked for details of the crime, the suspect allegedly claimed to have stabbed Shultz “mostly in the face”.
Haulman has been arrested and charged with kidnapping, criminal homicide and abuse of a corpse; a motive for the crime is not yet known. While allegedly confessing to the murder he broke down and sobbed to officers, telling them he had hurt everyone who loved him. Shultz was the first woman he had killed but he admitted that he had the urge to kill others before her and said he was "tired of living this way."
It is unclear if Haulman has an attorney, he has been denied bail and is currently being held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility awaiting a preliminary hearing in early January 2021.