Linda Stoltzfoos, an 18-year-old Amish girl, has been missing since June 21, when she was last seen on Stumptown Road, walking home from church, according to a flyer.
Stoltzfoos is 5-feet, 10-inches tall, 125 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes and she was last seen in a tan dress, white apron and white cape, local TV station WGAL-8 reported.
Authorities are asking anyone with information to call the East Lampeter Township Police Department at (717)-291-4676.
Authorities Have Called In the FBI for Support
WGAL-8 reported that Stoltzfoos was last seen 12:30 p.m. Sunday after attending church on a road near Bird in Hand in Lancaster County. However, after that, she never showed up at her home in Beechdale Road.
Police have said they have not ruled out foul play, but are fearful that she could be in danger; on June 24, East Lampeter police began working with the FBI for help in the search, local news station FOX-43 reported.
Lt. Matthew Hess, a spokesperson for East Lampeter police, told FOX-43, “With this investigation so far, we don’t have any direct evidence to say this is foul play or direct evidence to say this was her leaving on her own free will.” Hess told WGAL-8, “This is uncharacteristic of what we know about Linda due to the fact that she’s missing with no clues, no evidence to lead us in any real direction. So, it’s making it a difficult case to investigate.”
A spokesman for District Attorney Heather Adams told local TV news station WCAU-10 that finding Stoltzfoos is a top priority right now.
Search Efforts For Stoltzfoos Have Been Intense
FOX-43 reported that search parties have been deployed for days, along with dogs, ATV equipment and drones. The Lancaster City Police’s Mounted unit combed the area on horses while dive teams searched nearby ponds and creeks. Many volunteers have become exhausted from searching in the hot temperatures and dealing with the frustration of not finding any signs of Stoltzfoos.
Volunteer firefighter Randy Nields with the Bird-In-Hand Fire Company admitted that the search has been draining and told FOX-43, “I mean, they lost their kid. But we’re trying our hardest to find her.”
However, others in the community have stepped up to help, such as Ritas, which one person noted on Facebook was “providing refreshing treats to community and search personnel…..”
And at one point, so many volunteers showed up to search for Stoltzfoos that some were turned away, WCAU-10 reported.
Members from the same Amish community have created a Facebook page, called Amish Girl Missing – Linda Stoltzfoos to post updates and positive messages. The page also features photos of people posting flyers around town and holding prayer meetings that Stoltzfoos will be found safe as soon as possible.
Police, Friends and Family Say It’s Unlikely Stoltzfoos Left Voluntarily
The Christian Post reported that the Amish were secular countrymen living by “a literal interpretation and application of Scripture as the Word of God, including biblical commands to separate themselves from the things of the world.”
Sparky Grace, who rented an industrial space from Stoltzfoos’ grandfather, described in a Facebook post how Stoltzfoos’ father, Lloyd had just went through a struggle and has been devastated by Stoltzfoos’ disappearance:
Christmas night of 2019 Lloyd (Linda’s father) exited the rear of his shop to find me in my truck. I was chain-smoking overwhelmed by sadness. His gait is always relaxed and casual. He approached me with concern and held confusion in his eyes. He asked why I was there on such a significant holiday. He could see my tears and his face filled with the most genuine of compassion. He comforted me as I was broken. Little did I realize he’d fall into my arms at 4 a.m. on Monday morning, sobbing, and emit these words, ‘We can’t find Linda.’ Confusion filled my head and my only immediate thought was prayer. The man who once consoled me, now was shattered and broken.
Grace also emphasized that Stoltzfoos was highly unlikely to have suddenly abandoned her family:
I can’t read things posted anymore on this situation. People proclaim suspicions of abuse or a rebellious teenager. I’m telling you, that is NOT the case. My last memory of Linda was before Christmas. I drove the whole family to a Christmas party. She was singing hymns with her sisters in the back of the van. Not a word was spoken as these girls serenaded all of us. The moment was surreal and filled with peace from the voices of innocents. Having a two year established relationship with this family, I will tell you they’re beyond rare. The kids are always polite and filled with gratitude. The parents and grandparents are people that resonate with wholesome values and unwavering faith. My life will forever be touched by the generous acceptance and compassion by the Stoltzfoos family. I now ache for them beyond what I can express.
The police are also taking the attitude that it is unlikely Stoltzfoos has disappeared on her own accord.
“This is unlike her,” Lt. Matthew Hess told WCAU-10. “There are certain teenage Amish kids who would have that personality or would express that interest, want to see the world. There was no indication that this is the case for Linda.”
However, just in case she did leave on her own, Hess had a message for her: “We want Linda to know that if she is watching or listening to this, she is not in any trouble. We are only concerned for her welfare,” he said, also urging her to check-in.
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