If you do a search of Linda Stoltzfoos’ name on YouTube, you will find numerous videos about the case. One, in particular, caught my attention because it reminded me of an episode of “See No Evil” that I recently watched on Investigation Discovery (ID).
There is no way to confirm the validity of the claims made in the video, but according to the YouTube channel Plunder, Justo Smoker, the suspect who was filmed on surveillance video abducting 18-year-old Amish girl Linda Stoltzfoos, is talking behind bars at the Lancaster County Prison.
Plunder claims to have a source inside the prison who states that Smoker has been telling people that he can’t be convicted of murder if her body is never found.
He’s wrong about that.
If you’re unfamiliar with this case, please read my original post about Linda Stoltzfoos’ disappearance before you read this post. It will make more sense.
Now, on July 16, a press conference was held to update the public on developments in the case, which, unfortunately, were few. You can view the press conference in its entirety here. For those of you who don’t want to watch the whole thing, here is a timeline of when Smoker was arrested and a list of the pertinent updates provided by law enforcement on July 16:
- On Friday, July 11, 34-year-old Justo Smoker was arrested in connection to Stoltzfoos’ disappearance.  He is being held at the Lancaster County Prison and has been denied bail. Smoker has been charged with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment.
- On July 11, Pennsylvania State Police searched an area of Ronks, Lancaster County, where they found clothing buried in a wooded area — a bra and stockings. The area is three miles from where she was last seen.
- On July 12, East Lampeter Township police said they have reason to believe that Linda was harmed following her abduction.
Here’s some of the information revealed on July 16:
- The Stoltzfoos family didn’t know Justo Smoker, and investigators say they can think of no reason why Linda would have entered Smoker’s vehicle willingly when she had such a short walk back to her home.  (Lancaster Online ran a fairly pointless article showing that Smoker and Stoltzfoos are distant cousins. But since Smoker was adopted, the link means nothing, genealogically speaking.)
- Several witnesses reported seeing Linda riding in the passenger seat of Smoker’s car. One witness told police she thought it was odd when the passenger — assumedly Linda — didn’t wave back at her. Moreover, another witness, an Amish man, was shocked to see an Amish woman wearing her church clothes while riding in a car, which the Amish are not supposed to do.
- Searches for Linda continue, though investigators are staying fairly mum about the locations, “as each location has the potential to be a crime scene,” said East Lampeter Township Police Chief Stephen Zerbe.  *Searches has since stopped for now. The police are waiting for tips regarding more specific areas of interest before they search again.
- Anyone who may have seen Justo Smoker’s red Kia Rio on the day of the abduction or in the weeks afterward is asked to contact the state police. In particular, the police want to speak to people who may have seen the car and live in the areas of East Earl, East Lampeter, Leacock, Paradise, and Salisbury townships. All of these areas are located in Lancaster County.
- Anyone who may have private surveillance camera footage of Smoker’s vehicle on June 20 or afterward are also asked to contact the state police at 717–299–7650.
- During the press conference, it was made clear that the discovery of “intimate clothing” belonging to Linda lends itself to investigators’ belief that Linda was harmed after she was abducted.  Specifically, they found her bra and stockings knotted together, which is how Amish women typically carry them.
See No Evil
As you read this, keep in mind that I am only a writer, not a detective or any member of law enforcement. What I’m about to say is purely speculation.
The episode of “See No Evil” that reminded me so much of Linda Stoltzfoos’ case involves the disappearance of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar. The teen went missing on March 15, 2012, from Morgan Hill, California.  She left her home that morning and was supposed to catch a 7:35 a.m. bus to Ann Sobrato High School, where she was a sophomore and a cheerleader.
At 7:11 a.m., Sierra texted a friend saying she would meet her before class started. However, she never got on the bus, never made it to school, and never met up with her friend.
Sierra’s mother found out her daughter was missing when the school called her that evening to inform her that Sierra had not attended classes that day.
When Sierra first went missing, her friends and authorities believed she may have run away because she missed living in her old town.
I’ll try to summarize the case. In a nutshell, they found some of her belongings, including her phone, in the middle of nowhere, and two months later, authorities arrested a man named Antolin Garcia-Torres for her abduction and murder.
Garcia-Torres car was spotted on surveillance cameras near the area where Sierra disappeared, and cameras in the mobile home park where he lived showed him leaving the park just minutes before Sierra was abducted. 
Investigators found Garcia-Torres’ DNA in Sierra’s handbag, in his car, and on a rope found in his car that was believed to have been used to bind the teen.
Sadly, Sierra’s body has never been found, but Garcia-Torres was sentenced to life in prison.
Let’s take a look at the facts from Sierra LaMar’s case that mirror the Linda Stoltzfoos case:
- Like Sierra, many believed that Linda Stoltzfoos might have run away.
- Like Sierra, items belonging to Linda were found in the middle of nowhere (and Linda disappeared from the middle of nowhere).
- Like Garcia-Torres, Justo Smoker was recorded on surveillance cameras. In the case of Smoker, he was filmed actually abducting Linda. But in both cases, the surveillance video led to an arrest.
- Garcia-Torres claimed at the time that Sierra wanted to run away and he had given her a ride but denied abducting and killing her. Justo Smoker has lawyered-up and, as far as anybody knows, is maintaining his innocence, at least in the face of his attorney.
- Garcia-Torres has never told anyone where Sierra is, and Justo Smoker has so far left investigators in the dark about Linda’s whereabouts, as well.
- Both Garcia-Torres and Smoker had a criminal history prior to the abductions.
The police were alerted to Garcia-Torres as a potential suspect relatively early on in the investigation, and the same seems to be true of Smoker. Numerous witnesses reported to the police that they saw who they believed to be Linda Stoltzfoos riding in a red car on the day she went missing.
One witness saw Smoker’s red Kia parked behind a business in the area on June 23.  The manager of the business jotted down the license plate number after Smoker was seen looking in the business’ doors and windows.  (It has also been reported that the manager of the business took photos of Smoker’s Kia.)
I have also read, but can’t confirm, that a couple sitting on their porch saw Justo Smoker abduct Linda.
Law enforcement obtained surveillance video and first confronted Smoker on July 6, which was 15 days after Linda went missing. Smoker was arrested three days later. On July 8, the day before Smoker’s arrest, police went to his place of work to look at the car to see if it matched the vehicle in the video, and it did.
Why do I mention these things? Because it shows that Smoker was on law enforcement’s radar early on in the investigation. It can be extremely frustrating to see the slow trickle of information in the news, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot going on behind the scenes.
Investigators have not come out and said they think that Linda is dead, but they have certainly hinted at it. Many Lancastrians would like to drag Justo Smoker out of his jail cell and beat the truth out of him, but that can’t and won’t happen. He may never decide to grow up and be a man and tell the police where to find Linda, and she may never be found, but if there is enough circumstantial evidence, he could still go to prison for murder.
(Please don’t leave me comments about how Justo Smoker is presumed innocent and about how torture rarely leads to honest confessions. I’m simply stating a fact about how many people in the area feel. Obviously, no one is going to literally torture the truth out of him, including me, so don’t waste your time.)
You can bet there is a great deal of information that the police have not released. Was Justo Smoker’s DNA on the clothing they found? Has her DNA been found in his car? Was he watching her for any length of time, or was Linda at the wrong place at the wrong time on the day that Justo randomly decided to kidnap someone? There was a vehicle fire that occurred at Justo Smoker’s apartment building on July 4. Is there any connection?
When the police do release more information, the pieces will fit together to create a cohesive picture of what likely happened. (Though, if Smoker doesn’t talk, it will be based, at least partly, on speculation.)
One final thing I’d like to add. Justo Smoker’s preliminary hearing was canceled and will be rescheduled. People are speculating about what that means, but it probably means nothing significant. Preliminary hearings get rescheduled all the time. I know it’s more interesting to try and think of juicy reasons why this might have happened, but don’t get caught up in “why.”
*If you’re interested in taking a closer look at the details about Smoker’s arrest, popular true-crime YouTuber and amateur investigator Gray Hughes tears apart and analyzes the criminal complaint filed against Smoker. The video also shows the farm where Linda Stoltzfoos attended church before her abduction, where the abduction took place, as well as the many roads involved in the investigation and searches.