What Does Jen Soto Know About The Murder Of Her Daughter Maddie Soto

Mar 27, 03:03 PM

Investigators in Kissimmee have unearthed evidence that Stephan Sterns, the key suspect in the case of 13-year-old Madeline Soto's death, had been engaging in sexual abuse against her for almost two years. This revelation comes from video and photo evidence found during the investigation into her disappearance, as outlined in court affidavits filed in Osceola County and made available to the public on Tuesday. Initially released in heavily redacted form, the affidavits were later updated to include more details following the discovery of Madeline's body, albeit with some redactions remaining.

Sterns, 37, who was in a relationship with Madeline's mother, is charged with two instances of sexual battery against a minor, one of which dates back to when Madeline was 11, a crime that could lead to a death sentence upon conviction. Although Kissimmee Police Chief Betty Holland has not confirmed Madeline as the victim in these charges, the court documents reference the young girl's birth date and describe her as "the missing juvenile," indirectly linking her to the crimes.

The affidavits detail the abuse occurring from February 2022 to February 2024, covering the period from when Madeline was 11 until her disappearance. They specify two incidents captured on Sterns' phone, one in August 2022 when Madeline was 11, and another when she was 12, without specifying the date of the latter.

Further details emerged from a press conference led by Orange County Sheriff John Mina, revealing that Madeline had left messages to friends about her plans to "live in the woods" upon turning 13, coinciding with her birthday on February 22.

While Sterns is currently detained on charges related to the sexual abuse, he has not been charged in connection with Madeline's death. His arrest followed the discovery of the incriminating photos and videos on his phone. He is being held in the Osceola County Jail without bond.

Investigations pinpointed the location of many of the incidents to the apartment shared by Madeline, Sterns, and her mother in Venetian Bay Villages, Kissimmee. Madeline's mother, Jenn Soto, has not been implicated as a suspect in her daughter's disappearance or death.

The case came to public attention when Madeline was reported missing after Sterns claimed to have dropped her off at a church near her school. Evidence presented by Holland and Mina at a press conference indicated Sterns discarding Madeline's belongings in a dumpster on the morning of her disappearance. Later evidence suggested Madeline was already deceased when Sterns returned to the scene.
Madeline's body was eventually found by search teams in a wooded area in St. Cloud, bringing a tragic turn to the investigation.
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