Merv Fisher & Donald Kraybill On The Linda Stoltzfoos Search

The York Daily Record has published an article providing a bit more insight on the search for Linda Stoltzfoos. We get comments from two people – Donald Kraybill, author and expert on the Amish, and Merv Fisher, Linda’s uncle. This follows Saturday’s update on FBI and local police involvement, including processing 100s of incoming tips.

First, the question many have asked: did Linda disappear of her own choice? Kraybill points out that it would be unlikely given the circumstances:

This case, though, is unusual. Usually, Kraybill said, there are signs that a young person wants to walk away from the Amish life, that his or her disillusionment with the life is telegraphed, either explicitly or subtlety.

“This is different than an 18-year-old person who lives in an apartment and vanishes,” Kraybill said. “Dozens of people who knew her or interacted with her on a regular basis had no idea she might want to leave. There’s no indication that’s the case.”

A reader who knows the community well also pointed this out: “This is also not a conservative area. People leave the Amish community all the time, but not by just disappearing.” As far as those that do leave by “disappearing”, I’ll add that Linda was last seen during the day. She didn’t vanish under cover of night. Also, she left no note. Without even a note, it truly would be a “disappearance” way to leave.

Linda’s uncle Merv Fisher is behind the Facebook page reporting on the search for Linda. Fisher got permission from Linda’s family to start it. He grew up Amish, but left, was excommunicated years ago, and doesn’t personally know Linda. The page recently requested that anyone with first-hand information report it immediately, and that readers keep “uninformed speculation to a minimum.”

The page describes itself as “managed by a few different people who are; involved in the situation, in touch with the authorities, have a full understanding of the Amish culture, and most importantly, part of the family that wants to find Linda.”

The community has held prayer vigils each night since she disappeared. They are not organized by the Amish, Fisher explains. Prayer vigils are not an “Amish thing”. However, Amish have participated, as you can see from the photos here (all photos on this post via the Facebook search page).

Finally, Fisher likens the collective response in the community to that of the 2006 Nickel Mines shooting tragedy:

“It’s very common for the Amish community to come together in times of natural disasters or other disasters,” Fisher said. “And it’s not uncommon for the English community to come together.”

But this seems different. In the case of Linda’s disappearance, the community outpouring has been even more pronounced.

“It’s more than I’ve seen in my 40 years,” Fisher said. “It has brought the outside English and Mennonite and Amish communities together in a way I’ve never seen.”

Fisher says that in Linda’s case the Amish will forgive, whatever has happened. That seems to presuppose something very bad has happened. Maybe people don’t want to start considering the forgiveness topic too deeply until more is known. But Fisher makes a valid point.

Here’s the Facebook page for the search for Linda. Anyone with information is asked to call the East Lampeter Township Police at 717-291-4676 OR you may submit a tip to the department’s CRIMEWATCH page.

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    1. Larry Simon

      Forgiveness is a priority

      Forgiveness is very unpolitical these days and only given begrudgingly. The Amish show us that it is a priority and needs to be given when someone needs forgiving. The person might not desire it or know that they need it. But be assured when troubles occur forgiveness is always needed.

      1. Disappearance of Amish girl.

        Forgiveness should always be “unpolitical”! I hope this young lady is found safe and sound, very soon.

    2. with you all in spirit

      We will share our thoughts and prayers with all good people who are concerned about our sister, even if we can’t be there in person. Now seems to be the time for “coming together” in many ways, around the world. Hoping for a positive result, and sending love.

    3. Wesley


      Has Linda been a baptised member of the Amish Church?
      This could make some difference though mostly only if it was to look into any motive for “walking away” though again it seems so out of usual character.

    4. Brenda Steigerwald

      Praying for Linda

      Linda is a beautiful young lady. If anyone has an idea where Linda
      may be please come forward and let the police know. She is missed by
      all that know here and loves her.
      I will keep her in my prayers. God Bless You Linda

    5. Martha Staton

      Praying for Linda & her Family

      Sending prayers for Linda, her family and friends .
      Prayers also for everyone that is supporting the searc and rescue .
      Martha Staton

    6. Michael Groff


      The key to moving God’s heart in prayer is repentance.
      God’s”Elohim”word in Psalms 133 says that when Brothers dwell together in unity God commands a blessing. There is no unity of His Holy Spirit in a Secretariat spirit among churches and leaders. We can have meetings but unless leaders lead the way in individual, than corporal repentance there can be no Unity or blessing. Paul made this clear in the 1st Corinthians letter. They were carnal fleshly.

      Leaders can mention sins for repentance but unless their hearts are gripped by seeing their sin and is sincere, genuine heart grieving, weeping tearing of heart. This always happens at every beginning of Revivals, then Reformation. Revival, renewals, Reformation sees no walls or kingdoms. At these prayer vigils are top Church elders represented at these prayer meeting? Are they concerned enough to be there?

      Godly Authority comes the same way. Through repentance, fasting and suffering. All those who live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Those who suffer with him will reign with him.

      Perhaps by his Mercy and Grace the Lord Jesus Christ may pour out a spirit of Grace and supplication on us who are praying for stoltzfoos and Grant our petitions of a much greater work of God than we can ever think or imagine. Zechariah 12 verse 10.