LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Officials from the agencies investigating the disappearance of Linda Stoltzfoos, an Amish woman who has been missing since Father's Day, said the effort to find her is a "constant, ongoing, collaborative effort" at a press conference Thursday.
The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office was joined by State Police, East Lampeter Township Police, and FBI officials.
"This case is a priority and we are doing everything we can to find Linda and bring her home to secure justice for her family and the community," District Attorney Heather Adams said at the briefing. "There have been many questions about what steps police are taking in this investigation, and while we cannot answer that in detail at this time, I can assure you we are using all investigative tools at our disposal to completely inappropriately investigate the disappearance of Linda Stoltzfoos."
East Lampeter Township police Chief Stephen Zerbe called the investigation a "constant, ongoing, collaborative effort."
"I would also like to extend our thanks to the Amish community as a whole, who have given unselfishly to help the Stoltzfoos family during this time," Zerbe said. "The searches for Linda are ongoing. We are not revealing much information about these search locations as each location has the potential to be a crime scene."
Stoltzfoos, 18, has been missing since Sunday, June 21 when she didn't return home after a church service.
She was last seen at a farm on Stumptown Road between the intersection of Beechdale Road and Gibbons Road in Bird-in-Hand.
On July 10, police arrested Justo Smoker, 34, at his place of employment. He has been charged with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment.
Stoltzfoos' whereabouts remain unknown and investigators are actively working to determine what happened to her after she was taken. Police say they have reason to believe she was harmed following her abduction.
Investigators searched a rural area in Ronks, where they thought Stoltzfoos might have been kidnapped. They found articles of clothing believed to be hers buried in a wooded area.
Smoker's vehicle, a red Kia Rio sedan with a distinct "LCM" sticker on the trunk, was seen parked in the rural area on June 23, according to the police release.
Now, authorities want information on where Smoker would have driven the car in the days before and after the alleged abduction.
"Something that seems so insignificant could be of great impact to this case," said Trooper Kevin Kochka.
Police say Smoker became a person of interest in the kidnapping after they received tips about a red/orange vehicle seen in the Gap area on the afternoon of Stoltzfoos' abduction.
Surveillance footage places a red Kia Rio with black trim, a spoiler, and a sticker on the trunk, which matches the description of Smoker's car, on the 500 block of Beechdale Road on June 21.
As Stoltzfoos walked home from a church event on Beechdale Road, police say a person believed to be Smoker approached the young Amish woman. Within seconds, Stoltzfoos is out of frame, and the red Kia Rio drives off.
Smoker's Kia Rio has distinct features, officials say. They include:
- a missing, front passenger-side hubcap
- black trim
- a rear spoiler
- an ‘LCM’ sticker on the trunk
The vehicle is in police custody, officials said.
Investigators are asking anyone who might have seen Smoker, or his vehicle, around the time Stoltzfoos was abducted and in the days after, to contact police at 717-291-4676.
Smoker is currently in Lancaster County Prison and has been denied bail by the district judge based on the nature of his charges.
“There is some consolation in that,” said Reuben King of Lancaster County. “That's where he needs to be, obviously, and all I can think of is they must have a pretty strong case to hold him."
King owns a painting and wallpaper business on the 3100 block of Harvest Drive in Ronks, which is near where authorities found a bra and stockings that are believed to be Stoltzfoos’. Police say they found the clothing buried in a wooded area.
“Hopefully, justice will be served, and they find Linda,” said King.
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.