A Pennsylvania man admitted Friday to kidnapping and murdering an Amish woman in June 2020 while she walked home from church in Lancaster County. 

Justo Smoker, 35, is facing 35-1/2 to 71 years in prison after pleading guilty to third-degree murder, kidnapping, and other charges in the death of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos. He also faces at least 17 years in prison for violating parole related to a string of armed robberies he committed in 2006, many of which had Amish victims. 

Stoltzfoos was last seen walking near her home on June 21, 2020. As part of the plea deal, Smoker led authorities in April to her body, which he buried on a railroad property behind a business where he worked. 

Linda Stoltzfoos, 18, was kidnapped and murdered in June 2020, authorities say. 

Linda Stoltzfoos, 18, was kidnapped and murdered in June 2020, authorities say. 
(East Lampeter Township Police Department)

Stoltzfoos died of asphyxia from strangulation, with a stab wound as a contributing factor, Dr. Stephen Diamantoni, the Lancaster County coroner, said. 

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Smoker told authorities he “approached Linda from behind and choked her with his arm under her neck and then with shoelaces until she was no longer breathing,” Todd Brown, Lancaster County’s first assistant district attorney, said in court Friday. “He then stabbed Linda in the neck one time to ensure that she was dead.” 

Smoker was arrested in July 2020 then charged with homicide in December. After Friday’s guilty plea, he faces up to 88-1/2 years in prison. 

Justo Smoker led authorities to Stoltzfoos's body in April as part of a plea deal. 

Justo Smoker led authorities to Stoltzfoos’s body in April as part of a plea deal. 
(East Lampeter Township Police Department)

“This sentence was specifically structured in a way that practically ensures that Smoker would never be released and amounts to the functional equivalent of a life sentence,” Brown said Friday.

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Smoker apologized in court to both Stoltzfoos’s family and his own family before being sentenced. 

“I thought I would know what to say, but what words can I say other than I am sorry — to Linda’s family, the community, and my supporters,” he said, according to Lancaster Online. “I robbed the family of time and memories.”



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