The Lancaster County coroner's office confirmed the remains discovered earlier this week were those of missing 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos.

After ten months and hours and hours of searching, investigators found Stoltzfoos' remains April 21, 2021, ten months to the day of her disappearance.

She was found buried behind a company in rural eastern Lancaster County, where the suspect, Justo Smoker, once worked.

Reading defense attorney, Paul Missan, says finding a body can make a big difference in a case, oftentimes for the prosecution.

"One is the forensic evidence that can be gotten from the body such as dental records, fingerprints, sometimes there's scrapings under the fingernails," says Missan. "You can get the DNA of a defendant."

The Lancaster County coroner ruled Stoltzfoos' cause of death was asphyxia due to strangulation and suffocation, with a stab wound as a contributing factor.

She was positively identified Friday morning after a forensic dental assessment.

The Berks County coroner says whenever you're dealing with remains, identification is just as important as cause of death. He says remains are examined and x-rayed to look for signs of trauma and healing to determine if injuries happened before a person died.

Depending on the state of remains they can do toxicology on tissue, hair or other samples. Environmental factors also come into play.

In Stoltzfoos' case, she'd been wrapped in a tarp and buried about 42 inches below ground. Experts say it is likely there was some level of preservation of her body.

Smoker has been in custody since July for her kidnapping. In December he was charged with homicide.

Missan, who does not represent the defendant, says the discovery of the body could change the defense.

"When you have DNA evidence, that's a pretty strong evidence for the prosecution, so the defense then would need to point out whether there are errors in the testing or the collection of the DNA or the fact that having that DNA is irrelevant," says Missan.

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