LANCASTER COUNTY, Pennsylvania (WGAL) — A man charged with kidnapping an Amish teenager six months ago in Lancaster County is now charged with killing her.
The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday that Justo Smoker faces an additional charge of criminal homicide in the presumed death of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos, who remains missing.
“Given the circumstances of Linda’s disappearance; specifically, that she was forcefully abducted by a stranger, we always feared she suffered a tragic fate,” District Attorney Heather Adams said. “After careful consideration of all of the facts uncovered by the investigation as a whole, we are now in a position – legally – to charge Smoker with murder.”
Stoltzfoos was last seen June 21 walking home from church on Beechdale Road in Upper Leacock Township. Efforts remain ongoing to locate her body and provide closure to her family, Adams said.
Adams said local, state and federal law enforcement officials have used numerous resources and tactics to try to locate Stoltzfoos, including posting photos and information on fliers, billboards and social media. Those efforts yielded no signs that Stoltzfoos is alive, Adams said.
The length of her absence, the fact that she was kidnapped by a stranger and the discovery of her intimate clothing buried in the ground also supports the conclusion that Stoltzfoos is no longer alive, according to Adams.
In addition, Adams said, Stoltzfoos has failed to contact anyone in her family or community.
“There was nothing found, no report or evidence, that indicates Linda was planning to leave her home and community. And since June 21, there have been no signs of Linda or traces of activity or routines involving Linda,” Adams said.
Adams said physical evidence and Smoker’s conduct around the time of Stoltzfoos’ disappearance supports the allegations that he kidnapped and murdered her.
Adams provided the following information about the investigation into Smoker’s actions:
Law enforcement received three separate reports that on the evening of June 20, a person matching Smoker’s description, in a vehicle consistent with his red Kia, was following Amish females near the abduction site. According to police, location data indicated Smoker’s cellphone was in the area at the time of those reported incidents.
Investigators said evidence, including witness statements, indicates Smoker placed Stoltzfoos in his vehicle and drove to the eastern side of Lancaster County, including remote areas within the Welsh Mountains.
Cellphone evidence shows Smoker then traveled to Harvest Drive, where Stoltzfoos’ bra and stockings were later found buried. Smoker returned to the site several times in subsequent days, cellphone evidence shows. DNA attributable to Smoker was found on one of those buried stockings, police said.
Police said Smoker then returned home and thoroughly washed and cleaned his red Kia sedan. Evidence also demonstrates that Smoker discarded items, including recently purchased gloves and multiple shoe and boot laces, shoes he wore on June 21 and car floor mats. Those items were never found in police searches, according to investigators.
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