LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Editor's note: The above video is from April 21.
Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams announced that the human remains officials located in a rural part of eastern Lancaster County on Wednesday are believed to be that of Linda Stoltzfoos, a missing Lancaster County Amish woman.
The FBI and State Police say they recovered the remains in a rural area in the eastern part of Lancaster County. The Lancaster County Coroner has confirmed the body was discovered near Dutchland Inc. in Gap
Preliminary studies of the body have started. The coroner says there will be a full forensic autopsy started on Friday. It could take days or weeks to answer definitively if the remains are that of Stoltzfoos and the ultimate cause of death. Temperature and moisture can impact decomposition. The coroner says his team will look for identifying marks on the body. His team will fall back on DNA if needed.
The coroner has confirmed that the remains were found near Dutchland Incorporated, the former workplace of Justo Smoker, who is facing kidnapping and homicide charges for Stoltzfoos's disappearance.
Stoltzfoos, 18, was last seen leaving a church service to walk home to her family's farm on June 21, 2020. She was reported missing a day later.
Investigators determined Justo Smoker was a suspect when a homeowner's surveillance video camera showed what they believe to be Smoker's car near where a woman believed to be Stoltzfoos is seen walking alone along Beechdale Road, less than a half-mile from her family's farm, on the day she disappeared.
The car drives out of view, but a male later returns on foot and approaches the woman. The two then walk out of frame in the direction of where the vehicle was last seen.
Multiple witnesses interviewed by police said they saw an Amish woman sitting in the passenger seat of a red Kia sedan on the day she disappeared, with a man resembling Smoker behind the wheel.
Smoker owns a red Kia sedan.
Stoltzfoos' bra and stockings were found buried behind a business where a vehicle resembling Smoker's Kia was seen by a witness, who photographed the vehicle.
Police later determined the vehicle's registration linked it to Smoker.
A zip tie was also found with Stoltzfoos' belongings, police said.
Authorities interviewed Smoker twice before charging him with kidnapping. In the first interview, he allegedly denied being in the area or recognizing Stoltzfoos' photo. But when police showed him a photo of his car at the business where her belongings were found, he said the car appeared to be his.
Police searched Smoker's home, car, and a storage unit registered to Smoker for evidence related to the case.
Currently, Smoker is charged with one count of criminal homicide in connection to the death of Stoltzfoos.
He is currently incarcerated at Lancaster County Prison while awaiting trial.
A Brief Timeline of Events in the Disappearance of Linda Stoltzfoos:
- June 21 (Father’s Day): Stoltzfoos, 18, never returned home from church.
- June 22: Stoltzfoos is reported missing. Volunteers search for her.
- June 23: Search continues near Enterprise Drive and Old Philadelphia Pike.
- June 24: FBI joins East Lampeter Twp police in search efforts for Stoltzfoos.
- June 29: Investigators say they want to talk to anyone who was on Mill Creek School, Stumptown, Gibbons, Beechdale or Millcreek Roads between 8am and 4pm on Sunday, June, 21 when Stoltzfoos disappeared.
- July 10: FBI offers a reward of up to $10,000 for information about Stoltzfoos’ disappearance.
- July 11: Lancaster County District Attorney’s office announces arrest has been made in the disappearance of Stoltzfoos. Justo Smoker, 34, of Paradise Township, is charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment.
- December 21- Lancaster County District Attorney's office announces homicide charges against Justo Smoker, 34.
- March 5, 2021 - A preliminary hearing is held where evidence is presented and a judge rules that there is enough evidence to charge Smoker with abducting and killing Stoltzfoos.
- April 21, 2021 - Officials announce they have found human remains while searching for Stoltzfoos in a rural part of eastern Lancaster County. District Attorney Heather Adams announces she will provide an update on the Stoltzfoos investigation.