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Madeline Soto case: State to seek death penalty against Stephan Sterns

In World
June 10, 2024

The Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office announced Monday that it will seek the death penalty against Stephan Sterns.

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Investigators said Sterns killed 13-year-old Madeline Soto — his girlfriend’s daughter — in late February.

Soto’s mother reported her missing Feb. 26, and her body was found in a rural, wooded area near St. Cloud on March 1.

Read: Madeline Soto: Bodycam videos show Stephan Sterns’ 1st interactions with deputies

“During the investigation into Soto’s disappearance, law enforcement found several disturbing pictures and videos on Sterns’ phone,” the State Attorney’s Office said in a news release. “He was arrested on 60 charges, including capital sexual battery, lewd or lascivious molestation and unlawful possession of materials depicting sexual performance by a child.”

A grand jury in April indicted Sterns on a first-degree murder charge in Soto’s death.

The State Attorney’s Office said its decision to seek the death penalty in this case is based on the following two factors, which it intends to prove:

Read: Stephan Sterns charged with 1st-degree murder in Madeline Soto’s death

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Friday evening that Madeline Soto’s body has been found. Investigators said Osceola County deputies found the missing 13-year-old girl’s body at about 4:30 p.m. in a wooded area along Hickory Tree Road.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Friday evening that Madeline Soto’s body has been found. Investigators said Osceola County deputies found the missing 13-year-old girl’s body at about 4:30 p.m. in a wooded area along Hickory Tree Road.

Detectives believe Stephan Sterns killed 13-year-old Madeline Soto on Monday morning at a Kissimmee apartment complex.

Detectives believe Stephan Sterns killed 13-year-old Madeline Soto on Monday morning at a Kissimmee apartment complex.

Investigators discovered the body of 13-year-old Madeline Soto on Friday afternoon.

Investigators discovered the body of 13-year-old Madeline Soto on Friday afternoon.

Investigators discovered the body of 13-year-old Madeline Soto on Friday afternoon.

Investigators discovered the body of 13-year-old Madeline Soto on Friday afternoon.

Investigators discovered the body of 13-year-old Madeline Soto on Friday afternoon.

Investigators discovered the body of 13-year-old Madeline Soto on Friday afternoon.

Sources say that Maddie’s body was found in rural St. Cloud near Hickory Tree Road.

Sources say that Maddie’s body was found in rural St. Cloud near Hickory Tree Road.

Police and deputies canvassed the area of Osceola County for 13-year-old Madeline Soto.

Police and deputies canvassed the area of Osceola County for 13-year-old Madeline Soto.

The Kissimmee Police Department will handle the search for Madeline Soto, said Chief Betty Holland.

The Kissimmee Police Department will handle the search for Madeline Soto, said Chief Betty Holland.

The sheriff said the efforts will now shift to recovering her body.

The sheriff said the efforts will now shift to recovering her body.

Sheriff John Mina said he is confident that she is dead, and recovery efforts will continue.

Sheriff John Mina said he is confident that she is dead, and recovery efforts will continue.

Members of the community will gather to pray for 13-year-old Madeline Soto.

Members of the community will gather to pray for 13-year-old Madeline Soto.

Deputies in Orange County said 13-year-old Madeline Soto has been missing since Monday morning. And now, her mother’s boyfriend is in jail on charges of sexual battery and possession of child sex abuse material. Stephan Sterns was supposed to go before an Orange County judge Thursday morning but refused to be in court.

Deputies in Orange County said 13-year-old Madeline Soto has been missing since Monday morning. And now, her mother’s boyfriend is in jail on charges of sexual battery and possession of child sex abuse material. Stephan Sterns was supposed to go before an Orange County judge Thursday morning but refused to be in court.

More than 50 members of the Orange County Emergency Response Team looked for the 13-year-old in various areas as our detectives continued their investigation.

More than 50 members of the Orange County Emergency Response Team looked for the 13-year-old in various areas as our detectives continued their investigation.

More than 50 members of the Orange County Emergency Response Team looked for the 13-year-old in various areas as our detectives continued their investigation.

More than 50 members of the Orange County Emergency Response Team looked for the 13-year-old in various areas as our detectives continued their investigation.

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

Madeline Soto

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office on Friday confirmed that the body of Madeline Soto, 13, has been located.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office on Friday confirmed that the body of Madeline Soto, 13, has been located.

• The capital felony being committed while the defendant was engaged in the commission of — or an attempt to commit — aggravated child abuse

• The victim being particularly vulnerable because the defendant stood in a position of familial or custodial authority over the victim

Channel 9 is gathering more details on the latest development in this case. Watch live coverage on Eyewitness News at 4.

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Photos: Madeline Soto

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