Police searching for an Amish teen who went missing 10 months ago have found human remains in a rural area of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Linda Stoltzfoos, 18, disappeared on June 21, 2020, while walking home from church in Bird-in-Hand, in Lancaster County, as CrimeOnline previously reported. Justo Smoker, 35, was arrested and charged with kidnapping after witnesses reported seeing his vehicle in the area, and one of the witnesses reported seeing an Amish female in the car.
Months later, in December, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office announced that it had filed murder charges against him, although Stoltzfoos’s body had not been found.
According to NBC Philadelphia, the remains found Wednesday will be sent to the Lancaster County Coroner for identification and cause of death. Police did not specify exactly where they found the remains, although they said they had notified Stoltzfoos’s family about the discovery.
A judge ruled last month that enough evidence existed for Smoker to stand trial.
Smoker allegedly kidnapped Stoltzfoos on Stumptown Road. Authorities arrested Smoker after spotting his red Kia Rio on security footage at the 500 block of Beechdale Road, on June 21 at around 12:21 p.m.
Two witnesses told police that they saw a red Kia Rio where Stoltzfoo was last seen, off of Amish and Stumptown roads. One of the witnesses said they saw an Amish female in the front passenger side of the vehicle.
A third witness, Isaac Esh, told authorities that he saw a red car driving east on Stumptown Road, which is the road that Stoltzfoos’ church is on, between 12:30 p.m. and 12:45 p.m. on June 21. Esh reportedly said that the driver made a stop at one point, turned the car around, and headed toward the direction of the church.
Shortly after her disappearance, authorities began focusing on 3104 Harvest Drive, near the village of Ronks. The same Kia Rio was spotted there on June 23; someone called the police and reported a “suspicious vehicle” parked at the rear of a business, driven by a dark-skinned male.
The caller said the man got out of his car, looked into the windows of the business, walked around the building, then got back into his car.
The caller managed to take down the vehicle’s license plate information. The car in question belongs to Smoker, police said, but the vehicle had left by the time authorities arrived.
During their search, authorities found a bra and a pair of stockings buried in the ground near the business. Investigators said the items likely belonged to Stoltzfoos.
The FBI obtained cellphone records that placed Smoker’s phone around 3104 Harvest on June 21, between 2:32 p.m. and 3:35 p.m.
Stoltzfoos’ trek from church to home was around nine-tenths of a mile. Investigators believe that she stayed on the road while walking home because of a creek between the church and her residence. They also believe Smoker had pulled his car off into a farm lane, then approached Stoltzfoos as she walked.
Enhanced security footage reportedly shows two people walking across Beechdale Road during the time that Stoltzfoos would have been walking home. The camera caught the pair only briefly, around 34 seconds before they walked out of view. Minutes later, the camera caught a red Kia Rio pulling out and driving away.
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[Feature Photo: Linda Stoltzfoos/Police Handout]