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The original item was published from 8/7/2020 10:27:56 AM to 10/10/2020 5:00:05 PM.

News Flash

District Attorney

Posted on: August 7, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Justo Smoker Ordered to Stand Trial in Kidnapping of Linda Stoltzfoos


A district judge saw a photo Wednesday of Linda Stoltzfoos walking to church on the day she went missing.

Stoltzfoos is seen with four other Amish females in a line across a Bird-in-Hand area road around 8:30 a.m.

Stoltzfoos never made it home on June 21; her whereabouts remain unknown.

The district judge also was shown photos of Stoltzfoos’ alleged abductor’s vehicle driving around the kidnapping site and where Stolztfoos’ clothing was found buried.

First Assistant District Attorney Todd E. Brown presented the photos at a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon, when 34-year-old Justo Smoker was ordered to be tried for felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment.

On the morning of June 21, Stoltzfoos – an 18-year-old Amish woman - walked to her church, attended service, helped wash some dishes, then walked toward home, alone, according to testimony.

A detective testified that a man in a red vehicle abducted Stoltzfoos on Beechdale Road. East Lampeter Township police Detective Christopher Jones said surveillance video recorded the kidnapping.

The video was not played at the preliminary hearing – but Detective Jones described it. He said a vehicle pulls onto the berm of Beechdale Road. A person is then seen walking on the other side of the road. A person exits the vehicle and approaches the pedestrian. There is a six-second interaction before the two walk back to the car in unison.

Investigators allege Stoltzfoos was the pedestrian and Smoker was the person from the car.

Detective Jones also described a number of photos, stills from surveillance cameras, that show Smoker’s red Kia Rio around the abduction site in the morning and afternoon of June 21 – and two days later.

The stills also show Smoker’s Kia traveling around an area where Stoltzfoos’ bra and stockings were found buried, in a wooded area off Harvest Road. A plastic ziptie also was found at that burial site.

Smoker told police he was not on Beechdale Road or that area. He also told police no one else drove his vehicle, Detective Jones testified.

When shown photos of the Kia, however, Smoker said it appeared to be his, Detective Jones testified.

District Judge Denise Commins found enough evidence was presented at the two-and-a-half-hour hearing to hold both charges for disposition in Lancaster County Court.

Smoker remains at Lancaster County Prison without bail. He is presumed innocent.

Smoker appeared in person for the hearing in a green jumpsuit, shackled at the wrists and ankles.

FADA Brown called to testify Detective Jones and a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper who responded to the area on Harvest Road where Stoltzfoos’ clothing was buried.

Trooper Kory Wardrop said an employee of a nearby business saw a red Kia – determined to be Smoker’s – parked by the business. The employee called police and reported it suspicious. A few minutes later, the employee saw a man drive away in the Kia.

About 40 yards from the business, police found the burial location, which the trooper described as a “disturbed” area of dirt and mud surrounded by vegetation.

The clothing was found about six to eight inches beneath the surface. Stoltzfoos’ parents told police the items appeared to be Linda’s.

In closing, FADA Brown said circumstantial evidence is “certainly enough to convict on kidnapping.”

Investigators continue to ask anyone with information on Stoltzfoos’ whereabouts, or Smoker’s activities on and around June 21, to submit that information in one of these ways:

- Call East Lampeter Township police at 717-291-4676;

- Call Pennsylvania State Police at 717-299-7650;

- Submit a tip online by clicking the SUBMIT button at the bottom of this linked page:

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041;; Twitter: @BrettHambright

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