Chilling find in search for Amish teen who vanished after church

Josh Dutton
·News Reporter
·2-min read

Human remains have been found in the search for a missing Amish teen.

Linda Stoltzfoos, 18, went missing in the US state of Pennsylvania in June last year.

Ms Stoltzfoos was last seen walking home from church in the Bird-in-Hand area in Lancaster County.

Her dad Lloyd Stoltzfoos told police in June last year he believes she never made it home after leaving the church, York Daily Record reported.

Lillian Ebersole, who attends the same church, told investigators Ms Stoltfzfoos said she was going home to change before going to youth group.

Linda Stoltzfoos, 18, is pictured.
Linda Stoltzfoos, 18, went missing in June last year. Source: Lancaster County District Attorney's Office

Prosecutors said friends and family report that Ms Stoltzfoos was happy with her life and had never expressed any desire to leave.

On Wednesday, police found human remains in an area of the township while searching for the teen.

“The scene will be forensically processed, and the remains will then be released to the Lancaster County Coroner for official identification and determination of cause and manner of death,” the district attorney’s office said.

“District Attorney Heather Adams charged Justo Smoker, age 35, one month after Ms Stoltzfoos’ disappearance with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment.

“Smoker was then charged with homicide relating to the death of Stoltzfoos in December 2020 after prosecutors alleged that the passing of time, along with the complete cessation of all routine activities led to the inevitable conclusion that Linda was deceased and that Smoker caused her death.”

Crews in Lancaster County search for Linda Stoltzfoos, 18.
Crews search for the teen last year. Source: WGAL 8

Authorities said surveillance video enhanced by FBI forensic technicians showed a red sedan, the same kind of car owned by the defendant, involved in the abduction.

In a rural location in Ronks, where they believe the victim might have been taken and where the vehicle was seen parked June 23, authorities found items of Ms Stoltzfoos’ clothing buried in a wooded area, prosecutors said. 

Justo Smoker is pictured.
Justo Smoker is accused of killing the teen. Source: East Lampeter Police Department

A DNA profile “attributable to Smoker” was found on one of her buried stockings, prosecutors have said.

Christopher Tallarico, the county’s chief public defender, argued in March there was no proof that Ms Stoltzfoos had ever gotten into Smoker’s car, and he elicited testimony that her DNA wasn’t found on samples taken from the car.

East Lampeter Township Detective Christopher Jones said DNA profiles recovered were insufficient to test.

with The Associated Press

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