Coroner IDs remains found in Pennsylvania as Amish teen who went missing; determines cause of death

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Linda Stoltzfoos (Courtesy: Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office)

PENNSYLVANIA (WJW/AP) — A Pennsylvania coroner says a young Amish woman whose remains were found this week had been strangled and stabbed in the neck.

The Lancaster County coroner used dental records to positively identify the body of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos.

The coroner said following an autopsy Friday that the cause of death was asphyxia from strangulation, along with suffocation. Justo Smoker, 35, was previously charged with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment along with criminal homicide.

He says the stab wound was a contributing factor in her death. Stoltzfoos was last seen walking home from church in the Bird-in-Hand area on June 21, 2020.

According to a press release from the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, Stoltzfoos’ remains were found on railroad property in a grave and wrapped in a tarp.

Police believe Smoker killed Linda within hours of her kidnapping on June 21 and buried her behind a business in Ronks, where her stockings and bra were previously recovered. Investigators believe Smoker later moved her body to the location behind his place of employment within several days after the homicide.

“Since charging this case we have maintained two goals:  bringing Linda home to her family and securing a murder conviction against Smoker.  While we charged the crime of homicide in December, I have no doubt that for Linda’s family, her death only became a reality upon the news of her body being recovered,” District Attorney Heather Adams said.  “We ask that the family be given privacy during this difficult time.  Our hearts go out to the family as they process this news, their grief, and the many emotions that it will bring.”

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