Prosecutors in Pennsylvania charge ex-convict with her murder after cops found missing teen’s her bra nearby and DNA evidence on her stocking
Justo Smoker has been in custody since, accused of ‘kidnapping the Amish teen, 18, after church six months ago’ whhile she was on her way home from church service
Linda Stoltzfoos went missing on her way home from church in Upper Leacock Township on June 21 – She is presumed dead and her body has never been found
Prosecutors in Lancaster County on Monday charged Smoker with criminal homicide in the killing of the miising teenager
Smoker, 34, a convicted felon, was previously charged with abducting the 18-year-old Amish girl on her way home from church on June 21
Officials said new charge is based on evidence developed during investigation, including DNA allegedly belonging to Smoker that was found on a stocking
Cellphone data shows the suspect traveled to the area where Stoltzfoos’s bra and stockings were later found buried
The suspect was released last year, after serving 12-and-a-half years to 30 years in prison following a string of armed robberies in 2006
A Pennsylvania man who was previously accused of kidnapping an 18-year-old Amish woman over the summer this morning was charged with her murder.
The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office on Monday announced a new charge of criminal homicide against 34-year-old Justo Smoker in connection to the death of Linda Stoltzfoos, who went missing on her way home from church in Upper Leacock Township on June 21.
Stoltzfoos’ body has not been recovered, but officials said during a press conference on Monday that evidence gathered in the course of the six-month investigation into her disappearance indicates that she had been the vitim of homicide at the hands of Smoker.
Smoker was earlier charged with a felony kidnapping count and misdemeanor false imprisonment. Authorities said surveillance video enhanced by FBI forensic technicians depicted her abduction and showed a red sedan, the same kind of car owned by the defendant, was involved in the abduction.
Stoltzfoos’ DNA was discovered on one of the victim’s stockings that were found buried in the woods, and that surveillance video, cellphone data and witness statements all led to the conclusion that Smoker abducted and then killed Stoltzfoos, according to the district attorney’s office.
‘Given the circumstances of Linda’s disappearance; specifically, that she was forcefully abducted by a stranger, we always feared she suffered a tragic fate,’ Lancaster County DA Heather Adams told reporters.
‘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.’
Linda Stoltzfoos was reported missing on the evening of Father’s Day by her father after she failed to return home from a youth group.
‘There was nothing found, no report or evidence, that indicates Linda was planning to leave her home and community,’ Adams said. ‘And since June 21, there have been no signs of Linda or traces of activity or routines involving Linda.’
Surveillance footage obtained by the authorities captured Stoltzfoos walking alone on Beechdale Road, a route she typically took home after church. A red Kia Rio that matched Smoker’s vehicle registration number was also seen in the footage.
The same car was then seen two days later on June 23 parked in a rural area in Ronks, where police believed Stoltzfoos might have been taken after being kidnapped.
Investigators said they found Stoltzfoos’ bra and stockings buried in a nearby wooded area.
Law enforcement later received three separate reports that on the evening of June 20, a ‘suspicious’ person matching Smoker’s description driving a red Kia was following Amish women near the abduction site.
Stoltzfoos went missing on Beechdale Road on June 21.
Two days later a car matching a description of one seen in the area at the time of her kidnapping was found on Harvest Drive.
Location data indicated that Smoker’s cellphone was in the area at the time of those reported incidents, according to the press release.
Just hours before the stalking reports, Smoker bought alcohol and multiple pairs of disposable cleaning gloves, as well as shoe and boot laces.
Witness statements indicated that on the day of the kidnapping, Smoker placed Stoltzfoos in his red Kia, then drove to the eastern side of Lancaster County, including remote areas within the densely wooded Welsh Mountains.
‘Cellphone evidence shows Smoker then traveled to 3104 Harvest Drive, where Linda’s bra and stockings were later found buried,’ the prosecutor’s office stated. ‘
Smoker returned to the site several times in subsequent days, cellphone evidence shows.
Furthermore, DNA attributable to Smoker was found on one of those buried stockings.
Officials alleged that when Smoker returned home, he ‘thoroughly’ washed and cleaned his red Kia sedan, and threw away the recently purchased gloves and multiple shoe and boot laces, shoes he wore on June 21, and car floor mats.
Smoker is expected to be arraigned on the homicide charge later today. He has been at Lancaster County Prison since July 11, when he was arrested on felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment charges.
Efforts to locate Stoltzfoos’ body in order to bring closure to her family remain ongoing.
A former high school wrestling all-star with a 3.0 grade point average and earned a place on the Lancaster-Lebanon wrestling all-star team in 2003 before turning to a life of crime, Smoker has an extensive criminal history stretching back to 2005 and has spent the majority of his adult life behind bars.
He was sentenced to serve 12-and-a-half years to 30 years in prison following a string of armed robberies in 2006. Smoker ended up serving nearly the minimum on that sentence and was released on Feb. 28, 2019.