LANCASTER, Pa. (KDKA/AP) - The Lancaster County Coroner's Office has ruled asphyxia due to strangulation and suffocation as the cause of death for 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos, an Amish teen who disappeared more than ten months ago.
According to CBS affiliate WHP-TV, the coroner used dental records to identify the remains and the coroner's office says the manner of death was ruled a homicide. WHP-TV reports a stab wound was also a contributing factor.
Police say on Wednesday, exactly ten months after she went missing, the Lancaster County Coroner's Office was called to a rural area in the eastern part of the county where human remains were discovered.
Justo Smoker, 35, of Paradise, was charged with homicide in December and a county judge ruled in March that there was enough evidence for a homicide trial. Smoker was initially arrested in August, and also faces charges of kidnapping and false imprisonment.
Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams declined Thursday to say what exactly led authorities to the grave or whether Smoker had provided the information as part of a deal with prosecutors. Stoltzfoos' body was found in the small town of Gap along Route 41, in an area of brush on railroad property behind a business where Smoker had worked.
Cell phone data shows Smoker had not been to the business property on the day Stoltzfoos disappeared, Adams said. Authorities believe Smoker killed Stoltzfoos within a few hours of kidnapping her, buried her in one location where her stockings and bra had been found and then moved her several days later to the grave discovered Wednesday.
Authorities have said surveillance video enhanced by FBI forensic technicians showed a red sedan, the same kind of car owned by the defendant, involved in the abduction.
A DNA profile "attributable to Smoker" was found on one of Stoltzfoos' buried stockings, prosecutors have said.
Christopher Tallarico, the county's chief public defender, argued in March there was no proof that Stoltzfoos had ever gotten into Smoker's car. A detective acknowledged in response to Tallarico's questions that her DNA was not found in samples taken from the car because DNA profiles recovered were insufficient to test.
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