Pennsylvania authorities on Wednesday continued their massive search for an Amish teenager who disappeared on Sunday after attending a church service—a move friends and family have described as “out of character” for the “sweet girl” who never caused trouble.
Linda Stoltzfoos, 18, was last seen around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday at a farm on Stumptown Road in the heart of Pennsylvania’s bucolic Amish country, the East Lampeter Township Police Department told The Daily Beast.
Authorities said that when Stoltzfoos—who was wearing a tan dress, white apron, and white cape—failed to return to her Beechdale Road home after attending a church service just down the road, her parents became concerned and contacted police. The story was first reported by LancasterOnline.
“She was a sweet, quiet girl who would never put herself in a troublesome situation,” one family friend told The Daily Beast. “We are shocked—her even leaving without informing anybody where she was going is out of character. This is all out of character.”
Authorities also believe the teenager’s disappearance is unusual, and while she is still being treated as an endangered missing person, several law enforcement agencies have joined the search. According to Pennsylvania State Police, which is also involved in the search effort, Stoltzfoos “may be at special risk of harm or injury.”
A spokesperson for the East Lampeter Township police said at least 100 volunteers and trained search personnel have put in 1,500 man hours into the search for the missing teenager in rural Pennsylvania. On Wednesday, the FBI joined the search, allowing authorities to use “more tools” in addition to dogs, horses, ATV equipment, and drones. East Lampeter Township detectives are interviewing family members and friends for further information about Stoltzfoos.
While foul play has not been ruled out, police are “still attempting to figure out what may have happened” and are investigating “all angles” of the incident,” East Lampeter Township police said.
“There is no reason for us to believe that she wanted to just leave,” a spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “That’s what makes it an unusual circumstance—it’s totally out of character for Linda. This is not a normal missing person’s investigation for us, I will say that. It’s not typical to be receiving a missing person’s case from the Amish community here.”
The spokesperson added that authorities Wednesday are issuing a “plea to Linda that she is not in any trouble, in the case that she left on her own free will. We just want her to contact us and let us know she is OK.”
To help with the search, a Facebook page titled “Amish Girl Missing - Linda Stoltzfoos” has been created to provide updates in the teenager’s case.
“A new day.....the family and community will continue searching for Linda,” one Wednesday post said, along with a photo of an open field.
The page, adorned with photos and videos of community members volunteering to help with the search and praying for her safe return, also includes information on community prayer meetings. On Tuesday evening, a meeting was held behind the Smucker homestead in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania—where over 100 came out to pray, cry, and sing in the open field, according to LancasterOnline.
“Thank you everyone for your prayers and support,” the Facebook post states. “We will be holding another evening of prayer and worship on behalf of Linda, her family, and the local community. Please join us in person or on Facebook Live as we intercede for Linda this evening.”