Man Charged with Murder of Pa. Teen Who Vanished After Church as Police Find Her Clothing, DNA

Chris Harris
·2 min read

East Lampeter Township Police Linda Stoltzfoos

Authorities in Pennsylvania have charged a 34-year-old man with the murder of Linda Stoltzfoos, an Amish teenager who hasn't been seen since Father's Day.

Justo Smoker had been in police custody since July, when he was initially charged with Stoltzfoos' abduction. But this week, the additional criminal homicide charge was levied by Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams.

Adams announced the development during a press conference Monday.

Smoker, from Paradise, is accused of abducting Stoltzfoos, 18.

RELATED: Manhunt Launched After Amish Teen Fails to Return to Home from Church Service in Pennsylvania

Stoltzfoos was last seen walking home on June 21, after attending church services.

She was last seen wearing a tan dress, white apron and white cape on a farm on Stumptown Road in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Lancaster County District Attorney's Office Justo Smoker

Police say the last time anyone saw her, Stoltzfoos was recognized inside a passing red car not far from the church — gazing out the window "with pleading eyes," according to police.

Smoker, who drives a red Kia, had previously pleaded not guilty to charges of felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment stemming from Stoltzfoos' disappearance. It was unclear Tuesday morning if he'd pleaded to the new count.

RELATED: Pa. Teen Vanished After Her Amish Church Service and Suspect Is Arrested — But She's Still Missing

Adams told reporters that after reviewing all of the evidence they've collected, investigators now believe Stoltzfoos is dead.

"Given the circumstances of Linda's disappearance — specifically, a forceful abduction by a stranger — we always feared the worst," Adams said.

Stoltzfoos' body has not been recovered, but police continue their efforts to find it.

Early on in their search, detectives located Stoltzfoos' bra and stockings buried in the woods in Ronks, Pennsylvania. The spot where they were buried was covered with two logs, left in the shape of a V.

A shorn zip tie was also found nearby.

Adams said Monday that Smoker's DNA was detected on Stoltzfoos' clothing.

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Stoltzfoos taught at an Amish school, PEOPLE previously reported.

She was abducted on the way back to her family's farm, where she was going to change into something else for her youth group meeting.