A man already accused of kidnapping a young Amish woman who has been missing since Father's Day, now faces murder charges.
On Monday, the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office announced a criminal homicide charge against Justo Smoker. Linda Stoltzfoos -- 18 at the time she disappeared -- was last seen on June 21.
“Given the circumstances of Linda’s disappearance; specifically, that she was forcefully abducted by a stranger, we always feared she suffered a tragic fate,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said Monday. “After careful consideration of all of the facts uncovered by the investigation as a whole, we are now in a position – legally – to charge Smoker with murder.”
Smoker, 34, has remained jailed since his arrest on kidnapping charge in July.
Stoltzfoos' father realized something was wrong when she did not arrive to an evening youth group where she was expected. Police later recovered surveillance video that showed Stoltzfoos being abducted on the side of Beechdale Road, where she was walking home from church.
The footage, which the FBI helped enhance, showed a red Kia Rio. Multiple witnesses told police they saw a woman in Amish garb in the passenger seat of that car. Police say it was Smoker's.
On June 23, two days after Stoltzfoos went missing, investigators went to a rural, wooded area in Ronks, a small farming community, where they believed she was taken. The Kia Rio was parked at the scene, police said.
In the woods, detectives unearthed buried clothes that they believe belonged to Stoltzfoos. A DNA profile “attributable to Smoker" was found on one of her buried stockings, Adams said Monday.
Investigators didn't reveal Monday exactly what happened to Stoltzfoos. The search for her body continues in a hope to bring closure to her family, the DA's office said.
NBC10 has reached out to Smoker's public defender in the kidnapping case to seek comment on his behalf, but has yet to hear back from the attorney.