Editor's note: District Attorney Heather Adams confirmed that the remains found were that of Linda Stoltzfoos. Read more.
Human remains were discovered near the former employer of the man charged in the kidnapping and death of Linda Stoltzfoos, the Amish teen who has been missing since June 21 when she didn't return to her Upper Leacock Township home after church.
The remains were discovered near Gap, in the county's eastern end, by a team consisting of the FBI, East Lampeter Township police and Pennsylvania State Police, the Lancaster County District Attorney's office said in a news release. The remains have not been identified.
Mervin Fisher, who is Stoltzfoos' uncle, said the family has been told there are "strong indicators" the remains recovered are Linda's.
“All of us have been hoping for closure. It’s not the news we wanted, but progress is moving forward to bring Linda to rest,” he said.
Fisher said on Wednesday evening that he was traveling to the Stoltzfoos family home where many people from the Amish community were gathering.
The Lancaster County coroner was called to the scene for forensic processing. The remains will be released to the coroner for official identification and a determination of cause and manner of death.
Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni confirmed his office was called sometime on Wednesday afternoon. Diamantoni said he could not comment more on the remains that were found because of the ongoing investigation.
An autopsy will be conducted Friday, he said.
Stoltzfoos’ family was notified of the body’s discovery, the district attorney’s office said.
Diamantoni said the body was found on wooded property at 160 Rte. 41 — Gap Newport Pike. That's the address of Dutchland Inc., where Justo Smoker — the man charged in the case — had worked and was arrested on July 10.
A news conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at which more information is expected to be released.
Smoker, 35, of Paradise Township, was initially charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment on July 10 after investigators said they found surveillance video showing his car near where a woman believed to be Stoltzfoos was last seen. On Dec. 21 prosecutors charged him with homicide.
Smoker’s attorney, Christopher Tallarico, declined comment when asked about the discovery of the remains.
Investigators zeroed in on Smoker after obtaining surveillance video from a home on Beechdale Road. It showed his car at an intersecting farm lane near Stumptown Road, which is the road Stoltzfoos' church is on.
The intersection was the last place Stoltzfoos was seen and is just four-tenths of a mile from her home, but the footage does not show her getting into the car. Other witnesses have told police that they saw an Amish woman in a car fitting the description of Smoker's vehicle later that day.
Authorities have also matched DNA samples collected by swabbing Smoker's cheeks to DNA samples found on Stoltzfoos' blue bra and white stockings. Pennsylvania State Police found the items July 10 while searching a wooded area near a Ronks business where Smoker had also been seen.
And several Amish females told investigators that a car matching Smoker’s and driven by a person fitting his description drove suspiciously around them near where Stoltzfoos disappeared on that day and the day before.
Smoker is being held at Lancaster County Prison without bail. He has never publicly said anything about the case, but has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
At the time of Stoltzfoos’ disappearance, Smoker had been out of prison for about 16 months after serving 12 1/2 years of a 30-year maximum sentence for a string of robberies in August 2006 of which he and his brother Victor were convicted.