As we approach two months since Linda was last seen, Fox 43 has published an article containing a summary of details from testimony given at Justo Smoker’s preliminary hearing August 5, along with a new video report.
There were three new points to me in the bullet summary below, which actually appeared following the hearing. I’ve bolded those. I’m posting it now for any who missed it at that time.
These details do not really point to any new direction in the case, but rather align with what has been generally known or suspected, and add another layer to the information available:
- Linda “was content with her Amish lifestyle. Nobody we spoke with reported she was unhappy in any capacity.”
- She was “timid in groups” and in public. She never had any boyfriends or non-Amish friends.
- Police searched Linda’s bedroom and found: her money was still there, along with her travel bag and all other belongings. The only things missing were her church clothes.
- Police checked for activity on Linda’ bank accounts as recently as Aug. 5 – there has been none.
- Witnesses saw an Amish female in a red car on the afternoon Linda disappeared. That was ‘extremely noteworthy’ because Amish females typically would not be alone in a vehicle wearing a head covering.
- One witness said, “she looked at me with pleading eyes.”
- As for the red car, Smoker was seen cleaning it a few hours after Linda was abducted. He also sent a Facebook message stating he was cleaning his car.
- Smoker told police no one else drove his car around the time of the abduction, and that he was not in that area on June 21 – but when police showed him surveillance images, he said the car appeared to be his.
- On June 23, a witness saw Smoker’s car parked near a wooded area where police later found Linda’s stockings and bra buried. A plastic zip tie also was found in that area.
- The witness photographed the car – it matched Smoker’s registration.
There is also further information in an article at Lancaster Online which came out following the hearing. This laid out in greater chronological detail aspects of the case, including how Linda’s clothing was found, and the process of questioning Smoker:
The next day, police arrived at Dutchland Inc., where Smoker was employed.
Jones said that they wanted to ask Smoker some follow-up questions; Smoker agreed.
That interview went on for over an hour.
Jones told the court that when they asked Smoker if he had seen Stoltzfoos, Smoker responded with “no” before looking at the photo of her.
Tallarico argued that by that point, on July 10, it was possible that Smoker had seen photos of her posted due to her disappearance, noting her photo was highly publicized.
An hour into the interview, Smoker told police that he had bought Chinese food and two beers between 12 and 1 p.m. from somewhere in the area of Beechdale Road.
He told police that he may have been in the area because he was drinking and driving and taking back roads.
When investigators asked him why he might have been in the area of Harvest Drive on June 23, where police recovered what they believe to be Stoltzfoos’ bra and stockings buried underground, Smoker told police that if he was in the area, it was just to smoke weed, Jones said.
I have not been able to find a public record of the full testimony of the August 7 hearing. I am not sure if that’s been made public in full, or if those records typically are. I will post a link to that here if I do find it (if anyone knows of one, please pass it along or share in the comments).
Smoker will be arraigned on August 28th. The FOX 43 video report below states that the search for Linda is “a constant ongoing and collaborative effort”, with footage of Amish males searching a wooded area, suggesting physical searches are still taking place.
If you have any info on the case, please call East Lampeter Township Police at 717-291-4676, or Pennsylvania State Police at 717-299-7650.
You might also like:
Do they teach any self preservation to their children? At minimum, teach their children to scream and run the other way from predators and never go with them? I don’t want to cast any blame, I just wonder how they face it culturally.
With all the kidnappings and murders that regularly occur, you would think that they would instruct their family members on what to do if they kind of situation occured. From what I’ve heard, you should never get into a car with a stranger, even if he’s threatening to kill you with a gun or knife if you dont. You have a greater chance of survival by running away and risking getting shot, than by getting into his car. The kidnapper is less likely to shoot if he thinks that it will bring attention to what he is doing. Better to get shot and maybe be found alive, than get into his vehicle and be tortured, raped, and killed, never to be seen again. And the majority of the murder/rapes that are committed by a total stranger, go unsolved.
The Amish are fairly untouched by these types of crimes, probably by virtue of the places they live and the culture. That noted there was an Amish child abduction some years ago, a recent home invasion and assault, and two instances of murder I can think of which happened within the community (but committed by members of the community). There is also Nickel Mines but that awful event could be considered an outlier. By their proximity to large population centers communities like Lancaster County probably have more reason to be vigilant on this topic.
They do teach their children to stay away from stangers. But, like english, they can be beguiled. Would love to know just what he said to her in 6 seconds that made her go with him. Told her parents/family were in wreck/sick and sent him for her? How on earth would she have gone with him otherwise. Told the girls yesterday, don’t just scream for help, scream and keep screaming “FIRE” People pay attention to that. Praying that she will be found.
I suppose it’s possible she was threatened and he may have had a weapon. Don’t want to speculate too much but I am skeptical she would agree to go with him so quickly absent that.
I doubt it too…..how do they know that it wasn’t several people together who grabbed her and put her in the car and did what they wanted to do and then kill her…..this is so sad….poor girl…..how mean can some people be…..if they have her clothes , there’s DNA on there, no doubt and they will be caught ….
Someone wrote they did not walk alone, even if she was with someone else, and a car full of guys stopped , they still would not have had a chance to get away…..imagine what that poor girl must have gone thru…..I feel so bad for her and so sorry for what her family must have gone thru…..
Eric, I am glad you have brought this back to your blog…..I don’t get anything from you anymore ….
Don’t even know how I ended up here….was just checking different things…..
What store is this that sells these things for the kitchen…..? I saw a couple of things I’d like to have….
Please put my name on your list and make sure I get your emails…..
How long have you been doing this ? Because I have written you and asked if you would bring it back, it was interesting to hear comments that everyone made and the things you learn about the Amish , and idea and recipes that other people had to share…..
Why not try this?
Maybe there are some clairvoyant people in the area that could see if they know where the body is. I have seen reports of several successes and it would be a blessing to have this crime confirmed. Another possibility is she was sold on the black market…
Results don’t lie but may be misinterpreted. Remains of lost persons have been found by so-called clairvoyants including a case I personally know. I suggest the finders are not clairvoyant but pick up on clues others miss. In any case no harm trying.
Without Linda’s remains, the case against Smoker is circumstantial. That being said, murder conviction on circumstantial evidence is possible and it does happen. The tiniest fiber or hair connecting Linda to that car would make the case. I hope competent forensic investigators examine it which rural police would need to bring in. Even with the evidence they have now, the case looks very strong against him.
Test the clothing found buried for her & his DNA.
Hopefully they’ll test those things. Regarding the comment about teaching kids to beware of strangers; I think of my childhood in a quiet 7000 population Ohio town. Stranger danger unheard of. It just wasn’t a concern. A small rural community where everyone knew everyone and still does. Perhaps an illusion of safety.
It’s a sad reality in our area
I live in neighboring York County and we see Amish teens and children walking on our rural roads often. I worry about their safety, especially when we have frequent reports of men trying trying to lure kids into their cars, etc. There was a young woman raped along one of the roads near here a couple weeks ago when she was out walking. I don’t walk alone on the roads because if there is an issue with someone stopping or threatening, the houses are so widespread that there’s no one to see or hear for help.
How focused on this are Amish people?
I’ve noticed a lot of recent articles on this website about this topic. That made me wonder: Are the local Amish, and those in more distant settlements, paying a lot of attention to this crime? What are their thoughts?
That would make an interesting new article for this website.