Linda Stoltzfoos murder: Justo Smoker pleads guilty to ‘gruesome’ murder of Amish teenager


LANCASTER, Pa. (WPVI) – The man charged with the kidnapping and murder of an Amish teenager last year in Lancaster County has admitted to the crime.

Justo Smoker, 35, pleaded guilty Friday morning to third degree murder, kidnapping, corpse abuse and other offenses in the death of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos.

The smoker could serve up to 88 years in prison.

He was immediately sentenced to 35 to 71 years in prison for the murder of Stoltzfoos, and could be sentenced to over 17 more years for violating his parole conditions.

The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office said Smoker was paroled 16 months before the murder after pleading guilty to multiple armed robberies and burglaries, many against Amish victims.

Prosecutors said the sentence was “specifically structured in such a way as to virtually guarantee that Smoker would never be released.”

“In fact, this case is horrific and tragic,” District Attorney Heather Adams said. “The company will be protected from Smoker for what will likely amount to the rest of its natural life.”


Stoltzfoos was last seen walking from the church in the Bird-in-Hand area on June 21, 2020. His remains were found in a grave along the railroad tracks behind a company where Smoker had worked.

Authorities said they believed Smoker killed Stoltzfoos hours after kidnapping her, buried her in a location where her stockings and bra were found, and then moved her several days later in the fall.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Smoker agreed in April to reveal the location of Stoltzfoos’ remains and to plead guilty to third degree murder and other related charges.

In court, first aide Todd Brown said Smoker told investigators “he approached Linda from behind and strangled her with his arm under her neck, then with laces until she is not breathing. He then stabbed Linda in the neck once to make sure she was dead. “

Investigators say Stoltzfoos’ body was found with his hands and feet tied; a rope connecting these ties was wrapped around his neck; her belt and apron covered her face; and his mouth was covered with duct tape.

The LNP newspaper reported that Smoker apologized to Stoltzfoos’ family in court, saying he had “stolen time and memories from the family.” The president, Judge David Ashworth, called Smoker a “predator of the worst kind.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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