Man previous charged with kidnapping Amish girl has now been charged with murder

Justo Smoker, 34, of Paradise, Pennsylvania. [Image credit: Lancaster County District Attorney's Office]

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In July 34-year-old Justo Smoker was charged with kidnapping after 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos, an Amish girl, went missing while walking home from a church service on June 21.  He has remained in custody at the Lancaster County Prison since.

 

Yesterday the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office announced that Smoker has now been charged with criminal homicide.

 

“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 District Attorney Heather Adams said Monday in a statement released by the Lancaster DA. “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.”

 

“Investigators and prosecutors must follow the facts, the evidence and the law to reach conclusions,” District Attorney Adams said. “A careful review of each of these factors leads us to the inevitable conclusion that Linda is deceased and provides the basis for the filed charges.”

 

The evening before Linda went missing, three calls were placed to local law enforcement reporting a suspicious person matching Smoker's description, driving a vehicle that matched the description of his Kia, following Amish females.  Location data obtained from Smoker's cellphone established that he was in the area during those reported instances of stalking.

 

According to the DA, Smoker was found to have purchased alcohol, boot and shoe laces, and multiple pairs of disposable cleaning gloves prior to the abduction.

 

Further tracing his cellphone location revealed that Smoker drove to the eastern side of Lancaster County to a remote area within the Welsh Mountains that spans more than 1,000 acres.  Smoker would return to that location several times over the next few days according to the DA.

 

Within those woods, Linda's bra and stockings were recovered from where they had been buried.  DNA evidence recovered from the stockings is a match for Smoker.

 

The DA further states that Smoker returned home and thoroughly cleaned his vehicle which included disposing of the floor mats which have not been recovered to date.   He additionally discarded the disposable gloves and multiple of shoe and boot laces, and even the shoes that he reportedly wore on the June 21.

 

To date, Linda has not been located and the investigation remains ongoing as law enforcement works to recover what they anticipate will be her remains in an effort to provide her family with some closure.

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