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Thousands gather for prayer ride for missing Amish teen

The Associated Press
Linda Stoltzfoos photo

EPHRATA, Pa. — 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.

Justo Smoker

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“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.

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” but released no details about the basis for that belief.

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.