EPHRATA, Pa. (AP/CBS) — Several thousand people gathered for a prayer ride for an Amish woman who remains missing following the arrest of a man accused last month of having kidnapped her. About 3,000 people came to Ephrata Community Church for Saturday afternoon’s ride for 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos, who has been missing since June 21, LNP newspaper reported.
Cars and motorcycles were decorated with yellow bandannas and flags — organizers said that is her favorite color — for the 30-mile ride through Lancaster County to Bird-in-Hand.
“I had no idea it would grow this big, at all,” said Brendan Veale, one of the organizers.
Stoltzfoos was last seen walking home from church in the Bird-in-Hand area. Authorities last month arrested Justo Smoker, 34, of Paradise on felony kidnapping and misdemeanor false imprisonment charges. He had a preliminary hearing on Thursday and will be formally arraigned later this month.
Prosecutors say surveillance video obtained by East Lampeter Township police and enhanced by FBI forensic technicians “depicts the abduction” of Stoltzfoos. Prosecutors said investigators believe she “was harmed following her abduction.”
“Certainly the discovery of intimate clothing near where Smoker’s vehicle was seen lends only to the conclusion that she suffered harm,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said. “This case is a priority and we are doing everything we can to find Linda and to bring her home.”
Investigators say nothing indicates the two knew each other.
Mike Nolasch and his wife, Linda, full-time travelers from Folsom, California, were in Alabama when they heard about the prayer ride and decided to reroute their travels to take part.
“We’re happy to support the family in their time of need and the biker community,” Nolasch told LNP newspaper.
Investigators are asking anyone who may have seen Smoker’s red Kia Rio sedan on June 21 to contact them. The FBI has upped its reward to $10,000 for information leading to her recovery.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)