Stephan Sterns Charged with First-Degree Murder in the Death of 13-Year-Old Madeline Soto

Apr 25, 10:00 AM

In a significant development in the tragic case of 13-year-old Madeline Soto, Stephan Sterns has been formally charged with first-degree murder. The Osceola County court records confirmed the indictment, nearly two months after the young girl's body was discovered in a secluded area of rural Osceola County. The indictment details allege Sterns killed Madeline between February 25 and February 27, just days before her body was found on March 1.

Madeline was reported missing after she did not return home from school. Sterns, the boyfriend of Madeline's mother, Jennifer Soto, initially told investigators he had dropped her off at school on the day she vanished. However, authorities later clarified that this was not the case, intensifying suspicions around Sterns' involvement.

The case took a darker turn when disturbing evidence was found on Sterns’ phone shortly after Madeline's disappearance. On February 28, he was arrested on 60 counts related to sexual battery on a child and possession of child sexual abuse material. These charges included eight counts of sexual battery of a child under 12, five counts of sexual battery with a child aged 12 to 18, seven counts of lewd and lascivious molestation, and 40 counts of unlawful possession of materials depicting sexual performance by a child.

State Attorney Andrew Bain and Kissimmee Police Chief Betty Holland are scheduled to address the public and media at a news conference on Wednesday at 4 p.m., which will be streamed live by local news outlets. This press conference is expected to provide further details on the progression of the case and the upcoming legal proceedings.

In a recent court appearance, a pretrial hearing resulted in the postponement of Sterns’ trial after his defense team successfully argued for more preparation time, with the judge setting a new trial date for August 19. Sterns waived his right to appear at the hearing.

As the community reels from the impact of this heinous crime, the focus now turns to the upcoming trial and the justice sought for young Madeline. The Osceola County community continues to mourn the loss of a young life cut tragically short, as they await further developments in this disturbing case.
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