The family of Justo Smoker, who is charged with kidnapping Amish teen Linda Stoltzfoos, has released a statement praying for her safe return.
Here's the statement in its entirety:
"We are aware of the charges filed against Justo Smoker and we send our deepest sympathy to the family of Linda Stoltzfoos," the family said in a statement to WGAL. "We have been praying for her safe return and we grieve alongside our community over this news. Thank you for respecting our family’s privacy during this difficult time. We have no further comment at this time."
Smoker was arrested and charged with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment Friday, July 10, the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office said.
Smoker is currently at Lancaster County Prison without bail, the district attorney's office said. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, July 21.
Stoltzfoos, who remains missing, was abducted by Smoker the afternoon of June 21 as she walked home from church on Beechdale Road in East Lampeter Township, police said. Investigators believe that Stoltzfoos was harmed after she was abducted.
Police linked Smoker to the abduction after they received surveillance footage that had been examined by the FBI, a criminal complaint said. The footage shows someone driving a red Kia Rio with a spoiler and stickers on the trunk — the same description of Smoker's vehicle — on Beechdale Road and abducting Stoltzfoos.
Smoker's vehicle was spotted several times June 21, the complaint said. Numerous people said they saw a red sedan driving around Gap with a Amish woman in the passenger seat.
In 2006, Smoker and his brother, Victor, robbed four different businesses at gun-point, LNP | LancasterOnline previously reported. Smoker pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 1/2 to 30 years in prison.
Smoker was released from prison Feb. 28, 2019 after serving nearly the minimum of his sentence.
During his sentencing in 2007, Judge Joseph Madenspacher told Smoker he could have faced a sentence twice as long, LNP | LancasterOnline reported. Madenspacher instead imposed a sentence that ensured "society is protected, but that you could still come out and lead a reasonable life."
Smoker's mother told Madenspacher her son had "been trouble since we got him," but said his attitude had improved since spending time in county prison, LNP | LancasterOnline reported in 2007.
"We're are here for Justo," she added. "He has an extended family and church family," who would support him after his release.
Smoker's father noted the need for punishment, but asked the judge to be merciful to his son.