LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The Lancaster District Attorney’s Office has accepted the guilty plea for Justo Smoker, the man accused of abducting and murdering Linda Stoltzfoos in 2020.
Smoker has pleaded guilty to charges of murder in the third-degree (criminal homicide), tampering/fabricating physical evidence, possession of an instrument of crime, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and abuse of a corpse.
“Bringing Linda home was a critical component to our mission to secure justice for Linda her family and the Amish community as a whole,” Heather Adams, Lancaster Count District Attorney, said.
Smoker will serve 35 1/2 to 71 years in prison, and also must serve 17 years for parole violation.
Stoltzfoos was abducted on her way home from church by 34-year-old Justo Smoker before he allegedly strangled, stabbed and buried Stoltzfoos alongside Route 41 near his workplace.
The case was presided by Judge David Ashworth, and was prosecuted by Todd Brown.
“It is not a compromise in order to bring Linda home. The likelihood is that the body wouldn’t have been discovered without this agreement. We were confident we could get a conviction, but not at the expense of Linda’s family..to give her family a relief and give her a proper burial. He will never be free,” Brown said.
Judge Ashworth calls the case the “height of depravity, cowardly and despicable actions demonstrate he’s a predator of the worst kind in the community. He should never have been given a chance to inflict pain and carnage to a community. He should never be released from prison. “
Samuel Blanc served as a family representative and read the family’s statement: “Linda was a kind, caring, loving, timid young woman, a big heart for children who needed help.”
Smoker also read a statement reading: “I know Linda was light. Because of me the world is dimmer and all I can say is I’m sorry.”
Months after an intense investigation, the FBI found that Smoker’s DNA was on Stoltzfoos’ clothing along with surveillance footage that linked the sedan used to abduct Stoltzfoos back to Smoker.
This is a developing story. abc27 will provide additional details as they become available.