LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The discovery of the body of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos has prosecutors hopeful that they can convict the man suspected of kidnapping and murdering her.
On Wednesday investigators found Stoltzfoos’ body after 10 months of searching for her.
Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams says it’s an important moment in the investigation.
“Yesterday’s discovery, while sad and perhaps shocking to some, in an odd way it was a good day for law enforcement,” Adams said.
Investigators believe 35-year-old Justo Smoker kidnapped Linda when she was walking home from church back in June.
“Investigators have reason to believe that Smoker originally killed Linda within hours of her kidnapping on June 21st and buried her behind the business on Harvest Drive in Rocks where Linda’s stockings and bra have previously been discovered,” Adams said.
Then they think days later he dug up her remains and wrapped them in a tarp and buried them behind Dutchland Inc., the place where he worked at the time.
Teams had searched the area, but it hadn’t been a main focus.
“Smoker’s place of employment was not a location of significant interest, as according to cell phone records, there’s no indication that Smoker traveled to his place of employment on the day of the kidnapping itself,” Adams said.
For months now they’d assumed that Linda was murdered, even charging Smoker with kidnapping and homicide. But they’re hoping this discovery of her body helps them build a stronger case.
“Our goal now is to secure a murder conviction against Justo and to ensure that we’re balancing the family’s wishes along with the protection of the public to ensure that he is never out to be able to do this again,” Adams said. “I’m very confident in our ability to secure justice for Linda and her family.”
Ultimately they’re relieved they could bring some closure to the community and bring Linda home to her family.
“To be able to say that we’ve done that and to be able to know that that family can give their daughter a proper burial, that’s meaningful in itself,” Adams said.