A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Justo Smoker, who was charged Monday with killing Linda Stoltzfoos, the Upper Leacock Township Amish woman authorities say Smoker abducted while she walked home from church in June.

The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 30, before District Judge Denise Commins, but such hearings are frequently rescheduled.

At a preliminary hearing, prosecutors have to present sufficient evidence that a crime was committed and that the defendant probably is responsible and, therefore, that a jury or judge should hear the case at the county-court level.

Stoltzfoos, 18, disappeared June 21, leading to numerous searches by hundreds of people in areas where she was last seen and on the Welsh Mountain, a rugged, largely rural area in eastern Lancaster County.

Her body has not been found.

Smoker has been in custody since he was charged July 10 with kidnapping and false imprisonment based on video surveillance and witness accounts.

On Monday — six months after Stoltzfoos went missing — Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams announced her office was charging Smoker, 34, with homicide.

According to authorities, Smoker had been stalking Amish females, driving country roads in his Kia Rio with shoelaces, gloves and alcohol.

A Beechdale Road homeowner’s security camera recorded the last time Stoltzfoos was seen, around 12:40 p.m. on Sunday, June 21, but the camera did not record her being abducted.

Instead, the footage shows a Kia pulling off onto a farm lane out of view, then a man approaching a female, believed to be Stoltzfoos, according to court documents. Both people then cross the road and a figure can be seen in the passenger seat as the car continues south on Beechdale. The farm lane is about four-tenths of a mile from Stoltzfoos’ home.

Witnesses also told investigators they saw an Amish woman in a Kia later that day. Police traced the Kia to Smoker through its license plate, which was picked up on the surveillance video.

Smoker had been released from prison in February 2019 after serving the minimum of a 12-1/2- to 30-year sentence for a series of armed robberies he committed in 2006 with his brother.

Smoker is being held at Lancaster County Prison without bail.


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