The search for 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos continues more than three weeks after the Amish woman was last seen, officials said at a news conference Thursday.
“We are using all investigative tools at our disposal to completely and appropriately investigate the disappearance of Linda Stoltzfoos,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said. “This case is a priority.”
Justo Smoker, 34, of Paradise Township, is charged with her kidnapping and false imprisonment. He was arrested July 9 and is being held without bail in Lancaster County Prison. Chris Tallarico, the county's chief public defender, is representing him, but has declined comment.
Investigators said they believe Stoltzfoos may have been harmed and do not think she willingly went with Smoker. According to information and evidence, the Stoltzfoos family did not know Smoker, Adams said.
“We found no reason that Linda would have voluntarily entered Smoker's vehicle, only a short distance from her home,” Adams said.
And that Stoltzfoos’ bra and stockings were found buried near where Smoker’s vehicle was seen “lends only to the conclusion that she suffered harm," Adams said.
Adams said she realizes the case has drawn significant interest, but said investigators have to be limited in what they release so they don't jeopardize the investigation.
Stephen Zerbe, chief of the East Lampeter Township Police Department, said law enforcement agencies are still searching for Stoltzfoos.
“We are not revealing much information about these search locations as each location has the potential to be a crime scene,” Zerbe said. “Visitors to these locations and uncoordinated search efforts may not be beneficial to this investigation.”
The FBI has also been helping, but that's not unusual, said Frank Apicella, a supervisory special agent.
"When a local partner does request assistance the FBI can bring significant resources to bear," he said. The FBI's child abduction rapid deployment team and behavioral analysis teams are involved, he said.
The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Stoltzfoos' recovery.
Investigators are putting together a timeline of events, Adams said. Officials asked that anyone with information about Smoker's whereabouts in the days prior to and surrounding Stoltzfoos' abduction and Smoker's arrest contact police.
They also asked that residents of East Earl, East Lampeter, Paradise and Salisbury townships contact police if they saw Smoker's red Kia Rio within recent weeks. The car is in police custody.
Residents in those areas with surveillance cameras were asked to review footage from June 21 and the following days, and to call Pennsylvania State Police at 717-299-7650 with anything that might help.
"There is no piece of information or evidence in this case that is insignificant," Pennsylvania State Trooper Kevin Kockha said.
Stoltzfoos was last seen on Beechdale Road around 12:40 p.m., according to authorities. That's about four-tenths of a mile from her home on Beechdale. Enhanced video taken from a nearby homeowner's security camera showed a red Kia Rio pull off out of view, then a male on foot approach a female in white, believed to be Stoltzfoos, according to court documents charging Smoker.
Both people then cross the road and the video shows a white object in the passenger area as the car drove south on Beechdale, according to police. Several minutes earlier, a resident of Stumptown Road, which intersects with Beechdale, told police he saw a similar car with no passenger drive by while he was sitting on the porch.
Police traced the Kia to Smoker through its license plate, which was picked up on the video, according to court documents.
Stoltzfoos' stockings and bra were found several miles from where she was last seen, buried less than a foot deep in a wooded area behind a business on Harvest Drive, police said. Cell phone information placed Smoker in the area after her abduction, according to prosecutors. The area is also about three miles from where Smoker's apartment at 3250 Lincoln Highway.
Smoker was released from prison about 15 months ago 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 is scheduled to appear at a July 21 preliminary hearing before District Judge Denise Commins, according to court records.