Pennsylvania (NBC) (07/13/20)— A man has been arrested and is charged with kidnapping an 18-year-old Amish woman who has been missing since June 21, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.
On Friday, East Lampeter Township police charged 34-year-old Justo Smoker with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment.
Linda Stoltzfoos, age 18, who was last seen walking home from church in the Bird-in-Hand area is still missing.
According to a news release by the DA, investigators still don’t know what happened to Linda and are still actively searching for her. It was stated that they have reason to believe Linda was harmed following her abduction.
Lieutenant Matt Hess talked to Dateline just days after Linda went missing and said that she was last seen around 12:30 p.m. that Sunday at a farm on Stumptown Road.
When Linda didn’t make it to her youth group later that evening, her parents became concerned and contacted the police.
“There is no reason for us to believe that she wanted to just leave,” Lt. Hess said at the time. He described Linda as a kind and quiet girl. “She did not indicate to anyone that she wanted to leave or take a trip. From what we understand, just running off without telling anyone would be very out of character for Linda.”
On Friday, investigators searched a rural location in Ronks, where they believed Linda might have been taken after being kidnapped.
Smoker’s vehicle was seen parked at that location on June 23. Investigators found articles of clothing believed to belong to Linda buried in a wooded area there.
Smoker became a person of interest in the kidnapping after police received information from multiple witnesses about seeing an Amish woman in the passenger side of a red/orange vehicle. The vehicle was also seen in the Gap area on the afternoon of the abduction.
Police obtained surveillance video – enhanced by FBI forensic technicians – that depicts Linda being abducted on Beechdale Road, where she had been walking home from church.
That video also shows a red Kia Rio, that police said was involved in the abduction. Witness descriptions of the driver and vehicle are consistent with Smoker and his vehicle.
Smoker, of Paradise, Pennsylvania, was arrested Friday night at his place of employment. He was arraigned Saturday morning on the two charges.
District Judge Joshua Keller, at arraignment, made Smoker ineligible for bail, citing the nature of the charges and the ongoing investigation.
East Lampeter Township police are being assisted by multiple agencies, including the FBI, Pennsylvania State Police and Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.
A Facebook page called “Amish Girl Missing – Linda Stoltzfoos” has been created to aid in the search for Linda.
Several photos and videos have been shared to the page of community members volunteering to help with the search.
Linda is described as 5’10” and 125 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.
Investigators are asking anyone who might have seen Smoker – or his red Kia Rio sedan – license plate KYB-9713, around the time Linda was abducted, and in the days after, to contact police at 717-291-4676 or to submit a tip on the Crime Watch website.
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