A Paradise Township man accused of kidnapping Amish teenager Linda Stoltzfoos has been ordered to stand trial after a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
Justo Smoker, 34, is charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment in the disappearance of 18-year-old Stoltzfoos.
Smoker appeared in person on Wednesday with a neutral expression on his face, wearing a green prison jumpsuit, with handcuffs on and his ankles shackled together.
His arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 28.
Five Amish men were in attendance on Wednesday in addition to about 20 other people in the court gallery, including members of the media.
Stoltzfoos was last seen as she was walking home from church on Beechdale Road on June 21, authorities said. She is still missing.
Few new details were revealed by investigators at Wednesday’s preliminary hearing that had not already been made public after Smoker’s arrest in July.
The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office combed through every detail of the affidavit during the two-and-a-half-hour hearing at the Lancaster County Courthouse.
First Assistant District Attorney Todd Brown showed District Judge Denise Commins photos from multiple surveillance cameras that he said depicted Stoltzfoos, Smoker’s vehicle — a red Kia Rio — and an image that shows what police said is Smoker and Stoltzfoos walking to his car.
Christopher Tallarico, the county’s chief public defender, who is representing Smoker, said the images showed “pixels,” not people and there’s no way to prove it was Stoltzfoos from the video alone.
East Lampeter Township police Detective Christopher Jones, who investigated the case, said that as of Wednesday morning, there were no changes to Stoltzfoos’ bank account.
Jones noted that Stoltzfoos didn’t have an identification card, so she wouldn’t have been able to use mass transit. Smoker’s attorneys, however, noted that Route 30 was near where Stoltzfoos was last seen, and there was no proof she didn’t use Red Rose Transit.
Stoltzfoos’ stockings and bra were found buried less than a foot deep in a wooded area at 3104 Harvest Drive on July 10, police said. Smoker’s cellphone information places him at the address only hours after Stoltzfoos was last seen, according to police.
The stockings and bra were found in a “disturbed” area of dirt and mud surrounded by vegetation about 40 yards away from the business on Harvest Drive, Pennsylvania State Trooper Kory Wardrop said.
During the preliminary hearing, Wardrop said a zip tie also was found in the area where Stoltzfoos’ bra and stockings were discovered.
Jones also testified and said the bra was dirty but didn’t appear to be underground for a long period of time.
Two days after Stoltzfoos was last seen, Smoker’s vehicle was spotted at the Harvest Drive address. A man reported Smoker’s “suspicious vehicle” to police, and said he saw the driver walk around the building and look into the windows and doors before leaving and returning a short while later, according to the affidavit.
The vehicle drove away before a Pennsylvania state trooper could make contact with the driver.
On the day that Stoltzfoos went missing, surveillance footage from a nearby homeowner’s security camera shows what appears to be Smoker’s red Kia Rio pulling out of view on Beechdale Road at 12:36 p.m. The footage also shows a male approach a female dressed in white, police said.
Within seconds, both people walk in the direction of the Kia Rio, police said. The vehicle then leaves with an white object in the passenger seat.
Shortly before, a resident of Stumptown Road, which intersects with Beechdale, said he saw the vehicle drive toward Stoltzfoos’ church and then turn around on a nearby road. The vehicle turned around again, paused for a minute, then began traveling west on Stumptown Road, according to the resident. The resident said there was only one occupant in the vehicle when he saw it.
A man and woman also told police they saw a red Kia driving down Amish Road with an Amish woman in the passenger seat the day Stoltzfoos went missing. The passenger was wearing Amish “church clothes,” and it struck the witnesses as odd because she was wearing a black head covering, which wasn’t common in that district.
The woman also told police that the Amish passenger “looked at me with pleading eyes,” Jones told the court on Wednesday.
Brown, the assistant district attorney, ended by saying the circumstantial evidence was “certainly enough to convict of kidnapping.”
Smoker was released from prison February 2018 after serving the minimum of a 12 ½- to 30-year prison sentence for a string of armed robberies in 2006. Smoker was 21 at the time.
Smoker is being held at Lancaster County Prison without bail.