Justo Smoker Ordered to Stand Trial for Death of Linda Stoltzfoos

A preliminary hearing was held today for Justo Smoker who was charged with the death of Linda Stoltzfoos six months after her disappearance in June 2020.  At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, Magisterial District Judge Denise Commins found enough evidence was presented at the hour and a half long hearing to hold the homicide charge for trial in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas.  Smoker was previously charged with kidnapping the 18-year-old Stoltzfoos who disappeared on June 21, 2020, while walking home from church.

First Assistant Todd E. Brown called Detective Chris Jones of the East Lampeter Township Police Department, who was the sole witness at the preliminary hearing.  Evidence presented at the hearing included:

  • There has been a complete cessation of all activities of Linda Stoltzfoos since she disappeared on June 21, 2020.
  • No one has had contact with Linda since her unexpected disappearance in June of last year.
  • Despite numerous and wide-reaching efforts by law enforcement, Stoltzfoos has not been located through missing persons databases.
  • Witness statements, video surveillance and cell phone records indicate that Smoker travelled to the Eastern side of the County, to include remote areas within the Welsh Mountains, after the disappearance of Stoltzfoos.
  • Cell phone data indicates that Smoker then travelled to the area of 3104 Harvest Drive, where stockings and a bra allegedly belonging to Stoltzfoos were found buried in the ground. 
  • Smoker’s DNA profile was found on the stockings that were found buried in the ground.
  • Smoker was seen cleaning his car after Stoltzfoos’ disappearance.
  • On the day before Stoltzfoos’ disappearance, other Amish females described incidents of a male in a red car following them closely in the area of the kidnapping.  Cell phone data corroborates that Smoker’s cell phone was in the area on the dates and times of the concerned Amish witnesses.
  • Within hours prior to the kidnapping and the stalking incidents described by other Amish females, Smoker purchased alcohol and gloves and several pairs of shoe and boot laces which were never recovered.

First Assistant Brown argued in summation that all evidence points to the inevitable conclusion that Stoltzfoos is deceased by criminal agency and at the hands of Justo Smoker. 

The Commonwealth will move for consolidation of the charge of homicide with the previously filed charges of kidnapping and false imprisonment for purposes of trial. 

The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office remains committed to seeking justice for Stoltzfoos and her family. 

Smoker remains at Lancaster County Prison without bail.  He is presumed innocent.