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Remains found in Pennsylvania search for Amish teen who disappeared last year


Human remains have been found in Pennsylvania in a search related to the disappearance of an 18-year-old Amish woman missing for 10 months, the district attorney’s office said Wednesday.

Linda Stoltzfoos was last seen June 21 while walking home from church in the Bird-in-Hand area of Lancaster County.

Justo Smoker is accused of kidnapping and killing Stolzfoos. Last summer, he was charged with kidnapping, and in December, he was charged with criminal homicide, the Lancaster District Attorney’s Office said.

Smoker, 35, is being held without bail, according to jail and court records. A public defender listed as representing him could not immediately be reached after business hours Wednesday night.

The district attorney’s office said the remains were found in a rural area in the eastern part of the county, which is southeast of Harrisburg.

The coroner’s office will identify the remains and determine the cause and manner of death, it said.

Linda Stoltzfoos.East Lampeter Township Police Department

“The Stoltzfoos family has been notified of this update and are understandably still processing this information,” the DA’s office said in a statement.

East Lampeter Township police Lt. Matt Hess told NBC’s “Dateline” last year after Stoltzfoos disappeared that there was no reason to believe the teenager wanted to leave or take a trip, and doing so would be very out of her character.

Authorities have said that clothing believed to belong to Stolzfoos was found in July buried in the woods in a rural part of Ronks and that Smoker’s vehicle was seen parked at that location two days after she was last seen.

Officials have said that “DNA attributable to Smoker” was found on one of the buried stockings.

Christopher Tallarico, the county’s chief public defender, argued in March there was no proof that Stoltzfoos had ever gotten into Smoker’s car, and he elicited testimony that her DNA wasn’t found on samples taken from the car, The Associated Press reported.

East Lampeter Township Detective Christopher Jones said DNA profiles recovered were insufficient to test.

In charging Smoker with killing Stoltzfoos, prosecutors “alleged that the passing of time, along with the complete cessation of all routine activities led to the inevitable conclusion that Linda was deceased and that Smoker caused her death,” the DA’s office said.

In March, a county judge ruled there was enough evidence to hold the trial for the homicide charge, according to the DA’s office.

The Associated Press contributed.



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