Human remains found during search for missing Amish teen Linda Stoltzfoos

Officials say they have located human remains in Lancaster County during the search for Amish teen Linda Stoltzfoos, 18, who went missing last year.

Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, East Lampeter Township Police Department and Pennsylvania State Police were on scene Wednesday in a rural area in the eastern part of Lancaster County.

Federal agents say Stoltzfoos went missing on June 21, 2020. Stoltzfoos was last seen walking home from church in the Bird-in-Hand area, and prosecutors noted that Wednesday marked exactly 10 months since she disappeared.

Prosecutors have said friends and family report that Stoltzfoos was happy with her life and had never expressed any desire to leave. In fact, they say, she had made plans to join others in a church youth group that day.

Linda Stoltzfoos, 18, was reported missing 10 months ago.

The Lancaster County Coroner’s Office has been called to the scene. The scene will be forensically processed and the remains will then be released to the Lancaster County Coroner for official identification and determination of cause and manner of death, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office.

Justo Smoker, 35, is charged with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment. He was later charged with criminal homicide in December 2020.

Prosecutors allege that the passing of time, along with the complete cessation of all routine activities led to the inevitable conclusion that Stoltzfoos was decease. In March, a county judge ruled that there was enough evidence for a homicide trial.

Authorities said surveillance video enhanced by FBI forensic technicians showed a red sedan, the same kind of car owned by the defendant, involved in the abduction.

In a rural location in Ronks where they believe the victim might have been taken and where the vehicle was seen parked June 23, authorities found items of Stoltzfoos’ clothing buried in a wooded area, prosecutors said. A DNA profile "attributable to Smoker" was found on one of her buried stockings, prosecutors have said.

Christopher Tallarico, the county’s chief public defender, argued in March there was no proof that Stoltzfoos had ever gotten into Smoker’s car, and he elicited testimony that her DNA wasn’t found on samples taken from the car. East Lampeter Township Detective Christopher Jones said DNA profiles recovered were insufficient to test.

Smoker is incarcerated at Lancaster County Prison awaiting trial. 

A press conference with further information is expected Thursday at 11 a.m. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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