“Today, a bank-bandit and murderer, believed to be one and the same man, sulks in the shadows of whatever he may find to shield him; a criminal hunted like a beast, while more than 100 Troopers seek to avenge the death of one of their comrades,” the Gettysburg Times reported on October 16, 1924.
Two days earlier, Pennsylvania State Trooper Francis Haley had been murdered when he tried to stop a car that he suspected might have been involved in a bank robbery. He had died on Lincoln Highway just inside the Adams County near Michaux State Forest.
Haley was the 11th state trooper to be killed in the line of duty and Pennsylvania State Police had turned out in force to hunt down the killer.
The killer’s car had been found the day after Haley had been killed. The car was found about 5 miles from Fayetteville, burned and abandoned. Though the license plate had been removed, it was still identifiable as the car that Haley had tried to stop and the state police had been searching for as dozens of troopers had combed South Mountain for clues.
Police were also searching for a potential suspect named Gerald Chapman. He had escaped from a federal prison in Atlanta, Ga., and was wanted for murdering a policeman during a robbery attempt in New Britain, Conn.
Meanwhile, the police in Baltimore, Md., had detained a suspect for questioning. He said that his car had broken down near Monterey Pass and he had to take the train to Baltimore.
The Gettysburg Times called it the largest manhunt in Pennsylvania history to that point. The Pennsylvania State Police were utilizing just about all of their resources to find the killer.
Amid this turmoil, Haley was buried in the Pottsville Cemetery. It was a reminder to the state police that all of the previous murderers of state troopers had been caught and Haley’s killer was still at large.
However, locating the car was a break in the case. The owner of the vehicle was identified as Philip Hartman of Rochester, N.Y. Hartman had also been a former resident of Adams County, working as a farm hand and lineman. The search shifted to locating Hartman. By that evening, the Reading Police reported that Hartman had surrendered to them and confessed to the murder.
He told the police that he had been forced to abandon his car in the mountains when it became stuck in mud. He had tried to hide it by burning it and then set off on foot to Mount Holly Springs. He traveled through the night to reach the town where he caught the train to Harrisburg. He then took a train to Reading.
Hartman talked freely while he was in the prison at Reading. He was born in Gettysburg and had later moved to Annville when he had gotten married and then became a father. Earlier in the year, he had traveled to Ohio in search of work. The job lasted only two weeks before he was laid off.
This was the last straw for Hartman and he decided to turn to crime. He stole a car in Columbus, Ohio, and made his way back to Adams County robbing gas stations along the way. Eventually, he found himself in Abbottstown where he decided to rob the bank there.
“My intention was not to kill the state trooper. I noticed him following me in the vicinity of Graeffenburg Inn. I aimed for his shoulder and as I did, he turned. The murder was not deliberate. I just wanted to put him out of the running, so I could make a getaway. After shooting the policeman, I abandoned the car and struck over the mountains,” Hartman told reporters.
When he arrived in Reading, he phoned his wife who told him that police had already questioned her and they were searching for him. He had planned to hide out in Reading until things blew over. He would then return home and lead a honest life, but his wife had urged him to turn himself in. Things wouldn’t blow over with him having killed a state trooper. Hartman reluctantly agreed and turned himself in.
He would have to throw himself on the mercy of the court.