Young Amish woman laid to rest 10 months after disappearance
LEOLA, Pa. (AP) — A young Amish woman has been laid to rest more than 10 months after she went missing while walking home from a church service in Pennsylvania, after which authorities say she was strangled and stabbed.
LNP newspaper reports that 69 horse-drawn buggies and a handful of vans and sport utility vehicles brought more than 100 people together Monday afternoon at the Myers Cemetery burial grounds, not far from where police say 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos was abducted.
The remains of Stoltzfoos were found last week buried along railroad tracks in the small town of Gap along Route 41 behind a business where 35-year-old Justo Smoker had worked, authorities said. Smoker was arrested shortly after her June 2020 disappearance and charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment, and later with homicide.
The Lancaster County coroner used dental records to positively identify the remains as those of Stoltzfoos, concluding that she died of asphyxia from strangulation, along with suffocation, with the stab wound as a contributing factor in her death.
Stoltzfoos was last seen walking home from church in the Bird-in-Hand area on June 21, 2020. Authorities have said they believe Smoker killed her within a few hours of kidnapping her, buried her in one location where items of clothing were found, then moved her several days later to the grave discovered last week.
Christopher Tallarico, the county’s chief public defender, argued in March there was no proof that Stoltzfoos had ever gotten into Smoker’s car.