Suspect charged with kidnapping missing Amish woman Linda Stoltzfoos
A Pennsylvania man is charged with kidnapping an 18-year-old Amish woman who investigators believe was “harmed” after being abducted last month, police said.
Justo Smoker, 34, of Paradise, was arrested Friday on felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment charges in the disappearance of Linda Stoltzfoos, who has been missing since June 21, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office announced Saturday.
Stoltzfoos’ whereabouts remain unclear and an active search for her remains ongoing, but investigators “have reason to believe she was harmed” after being abducted. She was last seen walking home from church in Bird-in-Hand on Father’s Day while wearing a tan dress, white apron and a white cape, East Lampeter Township police have said.
Surveillance video obtained by cops that was enhanced by FBI technicians “depicts the abduction” of Stoltzfoos in a red sedan as she walked along her normal route home, prosecutors said.
“That video shows a red Kia Rio involved in the abduction,” prosecutors said.
Investigators searched a rural area late Friday in Ronks, where they suspect Stoltzfoos may have been taken after she was kidnapped and where a red Kia Rio sedan owned by Smoker was parked on June 23, prosecutors said.
Cops found clothing believed to belong to Stoltzfoos buried nearby in a wooded area and several witnesses have reported seeing an Amish woman in the passenger seat of a vehicle allegedly driven by Smoker, prosecutors said.
Stotlzfoos’ father reported the woman missing after she failed to return from a youth group she planned to attend on June 21, authorities said.
“Investigators confirmed she did not make it that social gathering,” prosecutors said in a statement. “Police found nothing indicating Stoltzfoos was unhappy and wanted to leave her community.”
A message seeking comment from East Lampeter police on the search for Stoltzfoos was not immediately returned early Monday.
FBI officials, meanwhile, had offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to Stoltzfoos’ recovery and the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for her disappearance.
Hundreds of volunteers took part in searches for the woman over the weekend, WGAL reported.
“Linda, where are you?” read a post Sunday on a Facebook page dedicated to finding the Amish teen. “May the truth be revealed.”
Anyone who may have seen Smoker or his red sedan around the time of Stotlzfoos’ adduction is asked to call East Lampeter Township police at (717) 291-4676.
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