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Suspect in Florida Teen Madeline Soto’s Death Finally Appears in Court – Crime Online


The Florida man suspected of killing 13-year-old Madeline Soto appeared in court Saturday on charges of sexual battery and possession of child sexual abuse material, just hours after Soto’s body was found in rural Osceola County.

Stephan Sterns, Soto’s mother’s boyfriend, refused to appear in court on Thursday after his arrest on Wednesday, as CrimeOnline reported.

Police said he was arrested after they found “disturbing” photos on his phone, including evidence that suggested he tried to delete the photos before detectives confiscated the phone. Evidence also suggests that the sexually explicit images and videos may have been recorded at the family’s Kissimmee home.

On Saturday, Sterns, who has not yet been charged in Soto’s disappearance and death, remained silent while his attorney did all the talking, according to WESH.

“Your honor at this time I’m going to wave Mr. Sterns’s appearance. I’m also going to wave the reading of these charges. Mr. Sterns is aware of what he’s been arrested for,” the attorney said.

Stephan Sterns/Osceola County Sheriff’s Office

The judge ordered him held without bond.

Soto vanished on Monday. Sterns, a 37-year-old US citizen, told police he took her to school Monday morning, but dropped her off about a half mile away, CrimeOnline reported. Shortly before her body was found on Friday, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said investigators believed that wasn’t true and that Soto “was already dead” at the time Sterns said he dropped her off.

Mina also said investigators had surveillance video showing Sterns dropping items in a dumpster — items that turned out to be Soto’s backpack and school-issued laptop. Sterns was also seen driving in the area where Soto’s body was found early Monday afternoon.

Kissimmee Police said that Sterns would be facing more charges once they complete their investigation. He has been named the prime suspect in Soto’s death and disappearance.

Soto’s mother is not suspected of involvement, investigators said.

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[Featured image: Madeline Soto/Orange County Sheriff’s Office]





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