Homicides in Schuylkill County Have Some Afraid

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SCHUYLKILL COUNTY---People living in one part of Schuylkill County are still reeling after two people were killed just a few miles apart this week.

In the course of just two days, investigators said two people were killed in one part of Schuylkill County.

Monday, David Halaburda, 50, was found beaten to death in his home in West Mahanoy Township near Frackville.

Just a few miles away on Tuesday, Wendy Contreras, 39, was discovered lifeless in a house in Shenandoah.

According to court papers, her neck was cut.

"Generally it is quiet here but not lately," said Mary Wickhizer of Girardville.

Wickhizer and others gathered at The Famous Dutch Kitchen Restaurant in Frackville Wednesday, talking about the recent violence.

"In Frackville, you usually don't get a lot of stuff like that and then for it to happen two towns right next to each other, you just don't know what's going on with the world," said waitress Mariah Sands of West Mahanoy Township.

There was a third homicide in Schuylkill County this year in the same area.

In January, Joseph Boris, 60, was shot to death in West Mahanoy Township, in an area known as Shenandoah Heights.

His neighbor was charged with homicide.

All three homicides this year happened within 6 miles of each other.

When Joyce Gallagher of Frackville heard about the latest homicide, she called her son who lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

"He said, 'Oh that happens here all the time, 'and I said, 'I know, there it happens all the time. Here it doesn't.' So we were surprised."

Investigators have said these homicides were not acts of random violence. In each case, they said the suspected killer knew the victim. Still, people said the killings scare them.

"Yes, it does. It makes me want to move down, yeah. I want to go down to Pottstown. I don't like it up here right now," said Wickhizer.

In addition to those homicides, the Schuylkill County coroner said earlier this year an elderly man got into a fight with another at a facility near Orwigsburg. The other man died of a heart attack and the coroner said it was rule death caused by another person.


  • DE

    You’re all right. These horrors happen everywhere and have been going on since the beginning of time. The very first murder was committed between 2 brothers, (intimicy), and there were but a few people in the area at the time. Ancient history is not without it’s crimes and atrocities whether between intimates or strangers. In cities it happens by the numbers and is more spread out. In rurual areas 2 murders sprinkled in between a couple of thousand people seems like a lot. The one difference I noticed though is that once the diversity is integrated and woven into others in a city, socio-econimic levels even out cultures mesh, and the quality of life goes up, and crime goes down. It then gets pushed back to areas where no one goes if they’re in their right mind or are looking for trouble. As 0-Bob pointed out, that’s how it goes down.
    Harold’s perspective states that isn’t the case and that integration has caused the degregation of the area.
    As the good professer points out then what you end up with is pockets of places like this throughout america…some areas will be good, and others forever bad unless there is a shift of some kind; economic, social, even political or religious in nature.
    Sometimes you just have to pick up and leave. It’s bad for those not in a position to do that!

  • o-bob

    Agree with the 2 previous comments. The “coal regions” attract many undesirable people due to the low cost of living. Housing costs are so low that one can purchase a house for much less than a new car! This area has been grappling with social issues for the past 10 – 15 years. I was born and raised in the area but have moved away many years ago. Lack of job opportunities have forced the younger and motivated people to leave the area and it created a vacuum for social indigents to inhabit the area. These type of people typically have no desire to contribute to society.

  • Professor Wyatt

    This is a surprise.?. Typical small town pa ignorance… The suicide and overdose rate is very high in Schuylkill county per capita compared to areas of the same size in America. Demographic shifts over the last 15 years have made this area a very undesirable place to live… Sociology 101.

  • harold

    my family used to live in Shenandoah. we moved out of that town. the best move we made. we move out we the Shenandoah high school football team was involved with the beating death. this area just keeps getting worse. but yet people I know want us to move back. really!!!!! I don’t think so. my child nor me or my husband don’t need to be in an area that all there is killings. and to trust the Shenandoah police dept. they do not move to quickly. the only thing about living there is that the rent or to buy a house is cheap. that’s why you get some many races that live there. try going to an area that you pay 700.00 to 2500.00 for rent or mortage. people down there would not be able to afford it. they would not be able to turn to their beer.

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