At 2 a.m. June 22, Linda Stoltzfoos’ father called East Lampeter Township police to report his 18-year-old daughter missing after she didn’t return home from church.
Stoltzfoos, who was described by her friends as content and happy with her Amish lifestyle, had disappeared during a 19-minute walk from a farm on Stumptown Road to her home on Beechdale Road June 21, according to details provided in the criminal complaint for Justo Smoker, who is facing charges in connection with her disappearance.
No one realized until late into the night that she had been missing for hours. Her parents thought she had gone to youth group, and her friends at youth group thought she was sick at home.
After a three-week investigation involving East Lampeter Township police, Pennsylvania State Police, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI, Smoker, 34, has been charged with kidnapping Stoltzfoos.
Surveillance footage from the 500 block of Beechdale Road shows someone driving a red Kia Rio with black trim, a rear spoiler and an “LCM” sticker on the trunk — a description that matches Smoker’s vehicle — abducting Stoltzfoos at 12:42 p.m., according to the complaint. The footage was obtained after a forensic examination by the FBI because the original footage was not viewable, and police were able to identify the vehicle as Smoker's July 8.
Lillian Ebersole, a friend of Stoltzfoos, told police that Stoltzfoos had left the church by at least 12:30 p.m. Before Stoltzfoos left, the two young women washed dishes together after the church service, which took place between 9 a.m. and noon at a farm along Stumptown Road.
While they washed dishes, Stoltzfoos told Ebersole she planned to change out of her formal church clothes and put something else on for a youth group meeting. After the dishes were washed, Stoltzfoos, barefoot with shoes in hand, left the farm and began walking home, Ebersole told police.
That was the last time Stoltzfoos was seen before she went missing.
The walk home
The walk from the Stumptown Road farm to Stoltzfoos house is about a mile, or about 19 minutes.
While cutting across nearby fields makes the trip quicker, Stoltzfoos’ father told police his daughter seldom did so. Police said it would have been difficult for her to take the shortcut because she would have had to cross a creek.
According to surveillance footage, Stoltzfoos was walking south on the east side of Beechdale Road around 12:40 p.m. Several minutes prior, a red Kia Rio that matches the description of Smoker's vehicle pulled off onto the west side of the road and out of the view of the surveillance camera.
As Stoltzfoos walked down Beechdale Road, she was approached by an unidentified person who police believe to be Smoker, according to the complaint. Footage shows the person came from the direction of the Kia Rio. Within seconds, Stoltzfoos goes with the unidentified person out of frame. Soon after, the red Kia Rio drives off.
After speaking with Stoltzfoos’ friends and family, police do not believe Stoltzfoos went voluntarily with Smoker.
Two hours after Stoltzfoos was abducted, records show Smoker’s cellphone in the general area of 3104 Harvest Drive in Ronks, between 2:32 p.m. and 3:35 p.m., according to the criminal complaint.
Two days later, on June 23, Smoker's vehicle was spotted at the same address by nearby railroad tracks around 5 p.m. A man who reported to police the "suspicious vehicle," said he also saw the driver, a dark-skinned man with facial hair, walk around the building and look into windows and doors before leaving and then later returning. As a Pennsylvania State Trooper arrived to the address on Harvest Drive, the red Kia Rio drove away.
At the same address 19 days after Stoltzfoos went missing, a Pennsylvania State Police forensics team found a bra and stockings buried several inches underground. Stoltzfoos’ family identified the garments as what Stoltzfoos would have worn the day she went missing.
The garments were found three miles from where Stoltzfoos was kidnapped, police said.
At the same time as when Smoker was on Harvest Drive on June 21, Amish teens gathered for a youth group at a farm on South Groffdale Road in Leola around 2:30 p.m.
Despite telling several friends she’d be present, none of her friends had reason to think she had been abducted. They assumed she was sick and chose to stay home.
Youth group usually lasted until 11 p.m., Stoltzfoos’ father told police.
When Stoltzfoos didn’t return home from youth group after 11 p.m., her family checked her bedroom. They were unable to find her formal church clothing, leading them to believe she had never made it home after church.
In the hours following the Stoltzfoos family’s report to East Lampeter Township police of a missing person, hundreds of community members and emergency personnel searched the area surrounding Stumptown Road, where Stoltzfoos was last seen.
Within the first two days of searching, over 1,500 man hours had been spent looking for Stoltzfoos.
And for the next three weeks, hundreds would search using horses, dogs, all-terrain vehicles, drones and dive teams.
The search for Stoltzfoos continues, even after Smoker’s arrest. Sunday, the day after police announced the arrest, hundreds gathered at Blue Ball Fire Company and were dispatched across the area to search for the 18-year-old.
Following Smoker’s arrest, police said they believe Stoltzfoos was harmed after being kidnapped. Smoker has served time for armed robbery.
The Lancaster District Attorney’s Office said Stoltzfoos’ whereabouts were still being investigated.