Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

Mother’s boyfriend charged with first-degree murder in death of 13-year-old Madeline Soto

Alex Thompson By Alex Thompson Jun10,2024

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (TCD) — A 37-year-old man has officially been charged in the death of his girlfriend’s missing 13-year-old daughter, who was found dead in a wooded area last month.

In a press conference held April 24, Florida Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Andrew Bain announced that a grand jury indicted Stephan Sterns on a charge of first-degree murder in connection with Madeline Soto’s death. Bain said his office has not yet decided if they will pursue the death penalty.

Bain noted that his team, along with the Kissimmee Police Department, worked together to collect sufficient evidence to present the case to the grand jury.

Madeline Soto was last seen on the morning of Monday, Feb. 26. Her mother’s boyfriend, Sterns, reportedly dropped the girl off near Hunter’s Creek Middle School. When Soto’s mother went to pick up her daughter in the afternoon, the girl allegedly never showed up and had left her phone at home.

Investigators reportedly recovered evidence from the phone suggesting that Soto “wanted to go live in the woods” once she turned 13 years old on Feb. 22.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office announced Wednesday, Feb. 28, that officials found “disturbing images” on Sterns’ phone that were “criminal” and “sexual in nature.”

According to an affidavit reviewed by WFLA-TV, Sterns allegedly sexually abused Soto nearly two years ago when she was 11 years old.

Sheriff’s office detectives determined the crimes occurred in the family home in Kissimmee and contacted local police. Kissimmee Police, with the help of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, subsequently arrested Sterns on charges of sexual battery and possession of child sexual abuse material.

On March 1, days after Sterns’ arrest, investigators reportedly found Soto’s remains in a wooded area, the sheriff’s office announced.

Kissimmee Police Chief Betty Holland said Sterns “made calculated moves to dispose of Madeline’s belongings and move her body to a wooded area before she was ever reported missing.”

Sterns remains held in the Osceola County Corrections without bond.

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Alex Thompson

By Alex Thompson

Alex is an award-winning journalist with a passion for investigative reporting. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Alex has covered a wide range of topics from politics to entertainment. Known for in-depth research and compelling storytelling, Alex's work has been featured in major news outlets around the world.

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2 thoughts on “Mother’s boyfriend charged with first-degree murder in death of 13-year-old Madeline Soto”
  1. As a mother myself, it breaks my heart to hear about such a tragic incident. The fact that a child could be harmed in such a way by someone they should have trusted is truly devastating. I hope justice is served, and the guilty party faces the consequences of their actions.

  2. It’s heartbreaking to hear about such a tragic case. The fact that Madeline was allegedly abused and then met such a horrific fate is truly horrifying. I hope justice is served and that those responsible are held accountable for their despicable actions.

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