LANCASTER, Pa. - Authorities in Lancaster County say they've found the remains of a kidnapped Amish woman, exactly 10 months after she disappeared.
"Authorities strongly believe and are comfortable saying the remains are those of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos," said Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams, in a news conference Thursday.
The coroner has not yet forensically identified the remains, but Adams said they match a female around age 18, and were found with a dress, bonnet and shoes like Stoltzfoos'.
"One of our main goals from day one was to bring Linda home, and to be able to say we've done that and to know that that family can give their daughter a proper burial is meaningful in and of itself," Adams said.
Investigators found the remains Wednesday, buried in a shallow grave and wrapped in a tarp, behind a company in eastern Lancaster County where the man charged in Stoltzfoos' death had worked, Adams said.
Authorities charged Justo Smoker with homicide in December, saying they had enough evidence to believe Stoltzfoos was no longer alive, and that Smoker, also charged with kidnapping, was responsible for her death.
"Though we charged Justo in December, I have no doubt that her death only became a reality for her family on the day her remains were found," Adams said, as she asked for privacy for the family.
The district attorney declined to release many details, citing the ongoing charges, but said investigators believe Stoltzfoos was killed within a few hours of her kidnapping on June 21, then buried in a wooded area where investigators later found some of her clothes.
Authorities believe a few days after she was killed, Smoker moved her body to the spot in Sadsbury Township, where it was found Wednesday.
Adams said the area around the business, located off of Route 41, had been searched, but it was not a place of significant interest, as cell phone records showed Smoker had not gone there the day of the alleged kidnapping.
"There is simply no room for criticism of law enforcement in this case," Adams said, as she described the thousands of investigators, search groups, friends and family who spent hours looking for Stoltzfoos over the past 10 months.
Adams declined to comment on how Stoltzfoos was killed, or what led them to the area where her remains were found. An autopsy is set for Friday.
Smoker remains behind bars, without bail, pending his trial.