A season and a month has passed since Linda Stoltzfoos disappeared — kidnapped, according to authorities — while walking from church to her parent’s Upper Leacock Township home.
Unharvested feed corn along Stumptown Road, along which the 18-year-old walked after church services on Sunday, June 21, has turned from green to tawny. Cabbage in the field at Stumptown and Beechdale roads, where she would have turned left on her walk, are now plump. Leaves on the trees along Mill Creek, next to the farm lane a woman believed to be Stoltzfoos was last seen, are beginning to yellow.
Yet no new information has been released publicly in the case.
The only known development is a status conference scheduled for the Paradise Township man charged in her disappearance.
“Obviously, we were all hopeful that we would have found Linda by this point and could provide her family with some more answers,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said Tuesday. “Our office and the investigators remain committed to bringing Linda home and securing justice for her and her family. This case is a top priority.”
Multiple agencies are working the case and it remains a priority, she said. Tips may be submitted here.
Justo Smoker, 34, was charged July 10 with kidnapping and false imprisonment after investigators said they found surveillance video showing his car at the farm lane where a woman believed to be Stoltzfoos was last seen.
Enhanced video showed a red or orange Kia Rio drive out of view, then a male on foot approach a female in white, around 12:40 p.m. on Beechdale, according to court documents charging Smoker. The video location is about four-tenths of a mile from Stoltzfoos' home. Investigators traced the license plate to Smoker, who owns a Kia.
Multiple witnesses also reported seeing a woman dressed in Amish clothes and a man in a car that matched Smoker's later on the same day that Stoltzfoos disappeared.
Investigators said they don't believe Stoltzfoos and Smoker knew each other. The fact that Stoltzfoos’ bra and stockings were found buried near where Smoker’s vehicle was seen at a business on Harvest Drive in Ronks "lends only to the conclusion that she suffered harm," Adams said in July.
The prosecutor’s office is not saying whether investigators think she is dead or alive.
Smoker is being held without bail at Lancaster County Prison. He has never publicly commented on the case. His attorney declined comment Tuesday.
Smoker’s status conference, scheduled for Nov. 5 in Lancaster County Court, will be an opportunity for the defense and prosecution to update a judge on where the case stands and get an outline of the schedule going forward.
Smoker was released from prison in February 2019 after serving the minimum of a 12-1/2 to 30-year prison sentence for a series of armed robberies committed in 2006 when he was 21.
Smoker pleaded guilty to the robberies, during which he and his brother, Victor, used a BB gun to rob four different businesses between Aug. 8 and Aug. 13, 2006. Victor was released from prison in 2016.
Though a state rule requires the prosecution bring a defendant to trial in 180 days from the date of arrest if they are incarcerated, that rule has been suspended because of the pandemic.