A Pennsylvania man faces charges of kidnapping an Amish teenager who has not been seen since leaving a church service in June, after authorities discovered surveillance footage showing him approaching her on a rural highway, and her clothing. inland buried in a nearby wooded area.
Authorities said a bra and stockings belonging to Linda Stoltzfoos, 18, were found buried “several inches” underground near where they say it was taken by 34-year-old Justo Smoker.
Smoker was charged Friday with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor felony imprisonment in connection with the June 21 disappearance, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office said. Investigators say Stoltzfoos was last seen around 12:30 p.m. on a farm on Stumptown Road, in the heart of the bucolic Amish country of Pennsylvania. The arrest was first reported by LancasterOnline.
Linda Stoltzfoos’ whereabouts remain unknown. Investigators are actively seeking and working to determine what happened to Stoltzfoos after she was kidnapped, ”the lawyer’s office said in a statement. “Investigators have reason to believe that Stoltzfoos was harmed after her kidnapping.”
East Lampeter Township police said they were first alerted that Stoltzfoos had disappeared around 2 a.m. on June 22 when the teenager, wearing a brown dress, white apron and white cape, was unable to return. to his home on Beechdale Road after attending a church service. just down the street. No one noticed that Stoltzfoos was missing for hours because her parents thought she had gone to a group of young people, and her friends there believed that she never showed up because she was ill at home, authorities said.
“There is no reason for us to believe that she just wanted to leave,” a spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “That is what makes it an unusual circumstance: It is totally out of character for Linda. This is not a normal missing person investigation for us, I will say. It is not typical to receive the case of a missing person from the Amish community here. ”
According to LancasterOnline, one of Stoltzfoos’s friends told authorities that the teenager had left the church after the two washed the dishes together after the three-hour mass, which ended at noon. As they washed the dishes, Stoltzfoos told his friend that he planned to go home and change before going to his youth group meeting. Once the couple finished cleaning, the friend told police that Stoltzfoos walked home barefoot, shoes in hand.
“Police found nothing to indicate that Stoltzfoos was unhappy and wanted to leave his community,” said the district attorney’s office.
Authorities said that over the 19-minute walk from the Stumptown Road farm to the Stoltzfoos home, a red Kia Rio approached the teenager around 12:42 p.m. They say surveillance footage shows the young man in 18-year-old walking south on Beechdale Road when an unidentified person believed to be a smoker by police approached her. The images show that the individual, who came from the direction of the Kia Rio, walks towards Stolzfoos. Seconds later, Stoltzfoos leaves the box with the individual and the red car drives away.
“The smoker became a person of interest in the kidnapping after police received information about a red / orange vehicle seen in the Gap area on the afternoon of the kidnapping,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement. “Several witnesses in that area reported seeing an Amish woman in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by a man. The driver and vehicle witness descriptions are consistent with Smoker and his vehicle. “
Police also said that two hours after Stolzfoos was kidnapped, cell phone records show Smoker was in a rural area in Ronks, about three miles away, where they believe the teenager was taken.
Investigators recorded that location on Friday in Ronks, where Smoker’s car was also parked on June 23, according to the cell phone’s location data. At the scene, investigators said they “found buried in a wooded area clothing that Stolzfoos believed he believed.” The researchers found Stolzfoos’ bra and stockings buried several inches underground, according to LancasterOnline.
Smoker was arrested Friday night at work and prosecuted the following morning, where District Judge Joshua Keller made the 34-year-old man ineligible for bail due to the nature of the charges. The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office said investigators are still looking for Stolzfoos. It is not immediately clear if Smoker has an attorney.
“She was a sweet and easy going girl who would never put herself in a troubled situation,” a family friend told The Daily Beast. “We are surprised, even if she leaves without informing anyone where she was going, she is out of place. This is all out of place. “