Convicted felon Justo Smoker Paradise Pennsylvania man released early from jail after serving 12.5 years for armed robberies charged in missing Lancaster County Amish woman kidnapping. Woman yet to be accounted for.
Justo Smoker, 34, of Paradise was booked on Friday with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment in relation to the disappearance of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos.
Stoltzfoos was last seen walking home from church in the Bird-in-Hand area of Lancasteron on June 21 according to a FBI release. Investigators say they have reason to believe Stoltzfoos was harmed following her abduction.
‘Smoker became a person of interest in the kidnapping after police received information about a red/orange vehicle seen in the Gap area on the afternoon of the abduction,’ the East Lampeter Township Police Department said in a press release.
‘Multiple witnesses in the area reported seeing an Amish female in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by a male. Witness descriptions of the driver and vehicle are consistent with Smoker and his vehicle.’
Teen’s clothes found buried
Stoltzfoos was reported missing on the evening of Father’s Day by her father after she failed to return home from a youth group she had been set to attend. Investigators say Stoltzfoos never made it to the social gathering that night.
Surveillance footage observed by authorities captured Stoltzfoos walking alone on Beechdale Road, a route she typically took home after church. A red Kia Rio that matched Smoker’s vehicle registration number was also seen in the footage.
The same car was then seen two days later on June 23 parked in a rural area in Ronks, where they believe Stoltzfoos might have been taken after being kidnapped.
Investigators say they found clothing buried in a nearby wooded area that’s believed to belong to Stoltzfoos.
Smoker was arrested on Friday night at the place of his employment and arraigned on Saturday morning on the two charges of felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment.
‘District Judge Joshua Keller, at arraignment, made Smoker ineligible for bail, citing the nature of charges and the ongoing investigation,’ East Lampeter police said.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are assisting in the search for Stoltzfoos, including the FBI, Pennsylvania State Police and Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office.
PLEASE SHARE: Police are asking anyone who may have seen 34-year old Justo Smoker or his red Kia Rio sedan on or after June 21st to give them a call at 717-291-4676. Investigators say the car has a distinct spoiler and “LCM” sticker on the trunk. pic.twitter.com/O8UdeOQouC
— Anne Shannon (@AnneShannonWGAL) July 11, 2020
Search for missing teen continues
Authorities are asking for anyone with clues or information to come forward as well as people who might have seen Smoker or his red Kia Rio sedan around the time Stoltzfoos was abducted.
Stoltzfoos weighs approximately 125 pounds and is 5’10” with blue eyes and brown hair, according to the FBI’s missing person report, and was last seen wearing a tan dress, white apron and black head covering.
Police found nothing indicating Stoltzfoos was unhappy and wanted to leave her community, investigators said.
The FBI is now offering a reward of $10,000 for information leading to her recovery.
Smoker, meanwhile, has an extensive criminal history stretching back to 2005 and has spent the majority of his adult life behind bars.
He had been a former high school wrestling all-star who had a 3.0 grade point average and earned a place on the Lancaster-Lebanon wrestling all-star team in 2003 before turning to a life of crime.
Released from prison 16 months before Stoltzfoos went missing
The 34-year-old was sentenced to serve 12-and-a-half years to 30 years in prison following a string of armed robberies in 2006.
Smoker pleaded guilty to the robberies, during which he and his brother, Victor, used a BB gun to rob four different businesses between Aug. 8 and Aug. 13, 2006.
During the trial, Smoker was revealed to have been adopted at age seven after he was found ‘living on the street, just trying to survive’, his defense attorney said.
‘They raised me better than this,’ Smoker told the judge of his adoptive parents. ‘I’m sorry for what I did and the people I hurt, including my family.’
His adoptive father said Smoker had been ‘trouble since we got him.’
The judge told Smoker at the 2007 hearing that he could have imposed a sentence that would have kept him in prison for twice as long, if not the rest of his life, Lancaster Online reported.
But, the judge said he issued a sentence that ensures ‘society is protected, but that you could still come out and lead a reasonable life.’
Smoker ended up serving nearly the minimum on that sentence and was released on Feb. 28, 2019.