A man has confessed to the kidnapping and murder of an Amish teenage girl on Friday, as he apologized in court to the family of the then 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos, who was last seen alive walking home from church.

Justo Smoker, 35, has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and kidnapping, among other charges, in the killing of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos. He has ben sentenced to 35 to 71 years of prison, with the possible addition of 17 more years due to the violation of a previous parole, according to local ABC affiliate WPVI-TV.

With the plea deal, Smoker also agreed to disclose the location of the young victim's body, missing since the summer of 2020, which had seemingly been moved from its original location. Authorities have credited Smoker's cooperation in the retrieval of Stoltzfoos' remains on April 21, reported by Kiro 7 News.

The young Stoltzfoos was reportedly kidnapped and murdered on her way home from a church event on June 21, 2020. A subsequent search party was unable to locate her body, but a witness saw a red Kia Rio in the area before and after the alleged kidnapping.

A neighbor’s security footage would later surface seemingly showing Stoltzfoos being abducted by an unidentified man, who coerced her into his Kia Rio before driving away in the red car. This man was believed to be Justo Smoker.

An autopsy report shows that Stoltzfoos was sexually assaulted before she was murdered, though Smoker vehemently denied the accusation. She was also allegedly “choked” with “his arm around her neck” and then stabbed “in the neck one time to ensure she was dead,” Assistant District Attorney Todd Brown highlighted during the trial, according to court documents.

Cellphone data also puts Smoker at the area where Stoltzfoos’ stockings and bra were retrieved from being buried in the ground. Traces of Smoker’s DNA were found in the stockings that the victim was allegedly first buried in, according to the preliminary hearing of the case.

Smoker is a felon with a history of armed robbery and burglaries, largely targeting Amish individuals. He was 16 months on parole for those crimes at the time of the murder.

Apologizing to the community and to Linda’s parents for his actions, Smoker said “I know Linda was a light. Because of me, the world is dimmer.”

Smoker is currently being held at the Lancaster County Prison.

Thirty-five-year-old Justo Smoke has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and other offenses in the death of 18-year-old Linda Stoltzfoos. This is a representational image. Creative Commons

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