A man has been charged in the kidnapping of an Amish teenager who went missing three weeks ago and is still yet to be found, prosecutors have announced.
Justo Smoker, 34, was arrested Friday on charges of felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment in relation to the disappearance of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos.
Stoltzfoos was last seen walking home from church in the Bird-in-Hand area of Lancaster on on June 21. Investigators say they have reason to believe Stoltzfoos was harmed following her abduction.
‘Smoker became a person of interest in the kidnapping after police received information about a red/orange vehicle seen in the Gap area on the afternoon of the abduction,’ the East Lampeter Township Police Department said in a press release.
‘Multiple witnesses in the area reported seeing an Amish female in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by a male. Witness descriptions of the driver and vehicle are consistent with Smoker and his vehicle.’
Stoltzfoos was reported missing on the evening of Father’s Day by her father after she failed to return home from a youth group she had been set to attend. Investigators say Stoltzfoos never made it to the social gathering that night.
Surveillance footage observed by authorities captured Stoltzfoos walking alone on Beechdale Road, a route she typically took home after church. A red Kia Rio that matched Smoker’s vehicle registration number was also seen in the footage.
The same car was then seen two days later on June 23 parked in a rural area in Ronks, where they believe Stoltzfoos might have been taken after being kidnapped.
Investigators say they found clothing buried in a nearby wooded area that’s believed to belong to Stoltzfoos.
Smoker was arrested on Friday night at the place of his employment and arraigned on Saturday morning on the two charges of felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment.
‘District Judge Joshua Keller, at arraignment, made Smoker ineligible for bail, citing the nature of charges and the ongoing investigation,’ East Lampeter police said.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search for Stoltzfoos, including the FBI, Pennsylvania State Police and Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities are asking for anyone with clues or information to come forward as well as people who might have seen Smoker or his red Kia Rio sedan around the time Stoltzfoos was abducted.
Stoltzfoos weighs approximately 125 pounds and is 5’10” with blue eyes and brown hair, according to the FBI’s missing person report, and was last seen wearing a tan dress, white apron and black head covering.
Police found nothing indicating Stoltzfoos was unhappy and wanted to leave her community, investigators said.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Luke Kenton