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Police: Slatington man charged in dismemberment case

A Slatington man has been charged with homicide after he admitted to killing a 37-year-old man in the basement of his residence, dismembering his body and depositing pieces in several locations.

Lehigh County District Attorney Gavin Holihan held a news conference Friday afternoon to discuss the homicide investigation and charges.

Joshua Douglas Moser, 33, was arraigned Friday on a first-degree felony charge for criminal homicide, and two misdemeanor charges of abuse of corpse, and tampering with physical evidence.

According to Holihan and the affidavit of probable cause filed by Troopers John Snyder and Taylor Dietrich of the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop M, Bethlehem barracks, the investigation discovered the following.

At about 1:30 p.m. Monday, state police at Bethlehem were alerted to a person missing under suspicious circumstances. Holihan said a friend of David Hittinger reported that the man had not been heard from since around 7 p.m. Saturday. The two were supposed to meet for Hittinger’s birthday, but failed to do so. Hittinger was seen at his residence at 699 W. Franklin St. in Slatington.

During the course of the investigation, troopers learned that Moser had recently allowed Hittinger to move into 699 W. Franklin St. with him.

After getting a search warrant for the residence on Tuesday, troopers found a large quantity blood in the basement where Hittinger was staying. Troopers said it appeared that the basement had been hastily staged to conceal the blood.

On Wednesday, law enforcement obtained a second search warrant and found a saw, box cutter, bloody clothing and more evidence.

Meanwhile, Moser had been taken into custody in Monroe County on a parole violation. He is currently being held at the Monroe County Correctional Facility. Bail has been denied due to the nature of the charges.

At 5:18 p.m. Wednesday, Pennsylvania State Police from the Stroudsburg barracks interviewed Moser, who according to the affidavit said he strangled Hittinger and struck him in the head with a hammer, killing him in the basement of his Franklin Street residence.

Moser said he dismembered Hittinger’s body at the residence and discarded the body parts in trash bags in three locations in Slatington and Washington Township. Based on information provided by Moser, the three locations were searched and dismembered body parts were discovered.

Holihan said the body parts were found in Fairview Cemetery, along a side trail of the D&L Trail, and in a small quarry pond off Welshtown Road, all in Slatington. Holihan did not confirm that all body parts have been found.

A fingerprint was recovered from a dismembered hand, analyzed by the Pennsylvania State Police, Bethlehem Regional Laboratory, and identified it as belonging to Hittinger.

An autopsy was performed on Friday to determine the cause of death.

“The investigation suggests at this point that Moser acted alone in the homicide,” Holihan said. “There does not appear to be a threat to the public.”

Officials did not release a motive.

Holihan cautioned that an arrest has been made is an allegation only. “The defendant in this case, Joshua Douglas Moser, is still presumed innocent until he’s proven guilty in a court of law.”

Holihan said the investigation was handled quickly and involved a large number of men and women from many resources. These include Pennsylvania State Police units from Troop M (SERT, Drone Team, Marine Unit, Forensic Service Unit, K-9 Unit); Troop N (Stroudsburg, Fern Ridge and Lehighton, and Vice); Slatington Police Department, Slatington Fire Department, Whitehall Township Fire Department Dive Team, Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office (including the county’s Drug Task Force, Homicide Task Force, and Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center), Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, Carbon County District Attorney’s Office, and the Lehigh County Coroner’s Office.

Moser will be transported to the Lehigh County Jail and is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on May 29 before District Judge Michael J. Faulkner.

Lehigh County District Attorney Gavin Holihan addresses the media on Friday afternoon about the investigation of a murder in Slatington. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS
Lehigh County District Attorney Gavin Holihan addresses the media on Friday afternoon about the investigation of a murder in Slatington. Pictured with him, from left to right, are Trooper Nathan Branosky, Trooper Taylor Dietrich, Trooper John Snyder, and Lieutenant Shawn Haines. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS