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Pennsylvania Amish teen Linda Stoltzfoos’ died after being strangled, suffocated and stabbed in the neck, according to the a county medical examiner.
The 18-year-old who disappeared last year while walking home from church, died from asphyxia due to strangulation and suffocation, Eric Bieber, deputy chief coroner for Lancaster County, told PennLive the A stab wound to the neck was listed as a contributing factor in her death.
Stoltzfoos’ body was discovered wrapped in a tarp and buried behind a local business last week on the 10-month anniversary of the teen’s June 21, 2020 disappearance, according to a statement from the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.
Several months after Stoltzfoos disappeared, authorities arrested Justo Smoker and charged him with kidnapping in the case; however, those charges were later to homicide in December after prosecutors argued it was likely Stoltzfoos was no longer alive.
District Attorney Heather Adams said in the statement that authorities believe Smoker abducted the teenager and then killed her “within hours of her kidnapping” before burying her body in an area off of Harvest Road, where investigators later recovered a woman’s bra and stockings,
Authorities said the body was later moved within several days to an area behind Smoker’s previous place of employment along Route 41 in eastern Lancaster County, where it was discovered last week by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, East Lampeter Township Police Department and Pennsylvania State Police.
Adams said authorities had spent more than 15,000 man-hours searching for the teen’s remains, utilizing drones, K-9s, horses, ATVs, submarines and ground penetrating radar in the 10 months since she disappeared.
“Since charging this case we have maintained two goals: bringing Linda home to her family and securing a murder conviction against Smoker,” Adams said. “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.”
Smoker was identified as a suspect in the case after witnesses reported seeing an Amish female in the passenger seat of a red or orange Kia matching the description of Smoker’s vehicle, according to an earlier release from the district attorney’s office.
The car, later identified as a red Kia Rio, was also seen in surveillance footage that captured the abduction.
Adams told Oxygen.com last week that the investigation “did not reveal any past knowledge or connection” between Stoltzfoos and Smoker.
Adams asked that the family be given privacy as they grieve the devastating loss.
“Our hearts go out to the family as they process this news, their grief, and the many emotions it will bring,” she said.
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