LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — We’re now hearing from the grieving family of Amish teenager Linda Stoltzfoos after authorities announced Thursday her body has been found. The victim’s family is heartbroken, especially considering the teen’s body was found Wednesday, 10 months to the day she went missing.
“There was just anguish at first, but then it really starts bringing closure,” said Mervin Fisher, Stoltzfoos’ uncle.
Stoltzfoos’ uncle is still in shock after learning police discovered his niece’s decaying body in a shallow grave.
“Our hearts go out to the family,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said.
Adams revealed Thursday the exhaustive 10-month search for the victim’s remains included K-9s, horses, drones, submarines and more than 15,000 man-hours.
“Law enforcement searched extensively for Linda’s body since June of last year,” Adams said.
That’s when prosecutors say the 18-year-old was kidnapped while walking home from church. Thirty-five-year-old Justo Smoker faced charges connected to her homicide even though police had not yet found her body.
That’s now changed. Authorities say they discovered the victim’s remains Wednesday in a rural part of Lancaster County near the same place where the suspect had worked.
“The remains were recovered behind a business in a grave on railroad property and wrapped in a tarp,” Adams said.
Authorities also say security video appears to show the kidnapping.
“That was a huge break,” Adams said.
“There’s security cameras everywhere,” La Salle University Criminal Justice Chair Charles Gallagher said.
Gallagher is not associated with the case but tells Eyewitness News that private security cameras are helping solve crimes more and more, even in rural areas.
“If you drive to a McDonald’s or a Wawa, there is a security camera. When you basically go through a toll, there is a security camera,” Gallagher said.
The Lancaster County coroner is set to do an autopsy Friday to explain the cause of death.