Missing Florida teen Madeline Soto found dead; mother's BF ruled prime suspect - Hindustan Times
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Missing 13-year-old Madeline Soto found dead in Florida woods; mother's boyfriend ruled prime suspect: Report

Mar 02, 2024 07:44 PM IST

Florida teen Madeline Soto had gone missing earlier this week, before her body was discovered in the Osceola County woods.

The young 13-year-old Madeline Soto from Florida, who'd been reported missing a few days ago, was found dead on Friday. Authorities located her body around 4:30 pm in Osceola County woods. According to the police, she was discovered wearing the same outfit she had on when she disappeared.

Press conference at OCSO headquarters in Orlando, Friday, March 1, 2024: Orange County Sheriff John Mina announces that their investigation has led them to believe that 13-year-old Madeline Soto was killed — and that the boyfriend of her mother, Stephan Sterns, is the primary suspect. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)(AP)
Press conference at OCSO headquarters in Orlando, Friday, March 1, 2024: Orange County Sheriff John Mina announces that their investigation has led them to believe that 13-year-old Madeline Soto was killed — and that the boyfriend of her mother, Stephan Sterns, is the primary suspect. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)(AP)

Soto's mother's 37-year-old boyfriend, Stephan Sterns, has been ruled the ‘prime suspect’ in the case. He was reportedly the last person to have seen Madeline alive. She was first reported missing when she didn't attend school on Monday.

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Missing Madeline Soto case:

Orange County Sheriff John Mina believes that the Florida girl was already dead before her mother's boyfriend hid her remains that morning. (ClickOrlando) His statement reads: “ We believe she was already dead at the time … Stephan Sterns moved her body in the early morning hours on that day.” Mina also claimed to have further video evidence showing Sterns “discarding items in a dumpster in that apartment complex in Kissimmee at 7:35 am."

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Police found the deceased Florida girl's backpack and school-issued laptop in the dumpster on Friday.

Sterns had previously told the police that he dropped her off at school. However, video evidence showed him driving back to the apartment in his silver 2010 Lincoln MK car. The police added that Madeline's lifeless body was still in the vehicle after he had discarded items in a dumpster.

Even before the police had found enough incriminating evidence against Stephan Sterns, he'd been arrested on unrelated terms. Sterns was charged with sexual battery and possession of child sex abuse material. The arrest was facilitated after a phone search that revealed “disturbing” clips and photos. Although that has happened, the Florida man hasn't been charged for Madeline's death yet.

Earlier, he also claimed to have “accidentally” factory reset his phone the same day Madeline went missing. Sterns had told the authorities that he dropped Soto in front of a preschool at 8:40 am, stationed blocks away from her middle school. Class started at 9:30 am here. The Sheriff's office confirmed that Madeline's mother went to pick her up around 4:30 pm. However, she was told that her daughter had not attended the school that day.

 

 

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