DA news conference

Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams talks about the recovery of a body she confirmed to be Linda Stoltzfoos during a news conference at Lancaster County Courthouse, Thursday April 22, 2021.

Ten months to the day after Amish teenager Linda Stoltzfoos disappeared on the way home from church, officials in Lancaster County found her remains near where Justo Smoker, the man charged with killing her, worked until his July arrest.

Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams held a press conference on Thursday at 11 a.m. and offered new information about the investigation and the recovery of Stoltzfoos' body. 

There are many details, though, that Adams said she was not able to address.

Here's what we do and don't know about the investigation into the disappearance and killing of Stoltzfoos. 


What we know:

The remains found on Wednesday belong to Linda Stoltzfoos.

Adams confirmed that investigators found Stoltzfoos' remains, citing the clothing Stoltzfoos was wearing when she disappeared, where the body was found and confirmation from the family.

Stoltzfoos was found along with a bonnet, dress and shoes "consistent with the clothing worn ... the day of her disappearance," Adams said.

Linda's remains were found buried in a hole up to 42 inches deep and wrapped in a tarp on Amtrak property behind Dutchland Inc., where Smoker had worked until he was arrested on July 10.

Stoltzfoos died from strangulation.

Lancaster County coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni said that Stoltzfoos died from strangulation, and was also stabbed once in the neck. The autopsy was held two days after investigators found her body.

Stoltzfoos was likely buried, then moved and reburied.

Adams said she and her team believe Stoltzfoos' body was originally buried near a business on Harvest Lane in Ronks, where investigators found her bra and stockings buried a few inches under the ground.

This was three miles away from where Stoltzfoos was abducted. 

Phone records had not focused on the area where Stoltzfoos was buried.

Much of Smoker's whereabouts were tracked via his phone records, so the search was concentrated more in those locations. Since he moved her body to another location, law enforcement did not focus on the area near his work, Adams said.

The area had previously been covered by the searches totaling 15,000 man hours, though the location is not easily accessible, Adams said. 

Prosecutors intend to seek a first- or second-degree murder conviction.

Both carry a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Adams wants to "ensure we're balancing the family's wishes along with protection of the public, to assure that he is never out to be able to do this again."


What we don't know:

How did investigators find Stoltzfoos' body?

Adams declined to comment on what led investigators to search the area.

She also declined to answer questions about the possibility of Smoker leading investigators to her body, saying that more information will be available in the next few weeks.

When was Stoltzfoos moved from the first location?

Adams did not give a set time frame for when the body was moved from the first location, where her bra and stockings were found, to the second. 

When did Stoltzfoos die?

Adams said that Stoltzfoos likely died within hours of being abducted, but there's not yet a concrete timeline.

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