Tragic Discovery: Missing 13-Year-Old Florida Girl Found Dead, Mother’s Boyfriend Suspected in Homicide

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Disturbing Twist Unfolds in Madeline Soto’s Tragic Disappearance

Tragic Discovery: Missing 13-Year-Old Florida Girl Found Dead, Mother's Boyfriend Suspected in Homicide
Tragic Discovery: Missing 13-Year-Old Florida Girl Found Dead, Mother’s Boyfriend Suspected in Homicide

In a heart-wrenching turn of events, the lifeless body of 13-year-old Madeline Soto was discovered in a wooded area on Friday afternoon, sending shockwaves through the community. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the devastating news just hours after expressing their belief that Madeline had met a tragic end.

The Suspected Culprit: Mother’s Boyfriend Under Scrutiny

At a press conference earlier in the day, Sheriff John Mina revealed that Madeline’s mother’s boyfriend, Stephan Sterns, is the prime suspect in this distressing case. Authorities have shifted their focus to a homicide investigation, suspecting Sterns of moving Madeline’s lifeless body.

Discovery in the Woods

Madeline’s remains were found around 4:30 p.m. by search teams from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in a wooded area off Hickory Tree Road, according to an update from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The grim discovery comes days after Madeline was reported missing.

Deceptive Timeline Unraveled

Initial reports indicated Madeline was last seen on Monday morning when Sterns dropped her off near Hunter’s Creek Middle School in Orlando. However, Sheriff Mina revealed in a Friday press conference that evidence contradicts this account. It is now believed she was never dropped off near the school that morning.

Shocking Revelations Lead to Arrest

Sterns, 37, has been identified as the “prime suspect” and was arrested on Wednesday night on unrelated charges of sexual battery and possession of child sexual abuse material. Detectives uncovered disturbing images and videos during a forensic examination of his phone, leading to his apprehension.

Chilling Video Evidence

Authorities have obtained video evidence showing Sterns discarding items in a dumpster at the Kissimmee apartment complex at 7:35 a.m. on Monday, February 26. Madeline’s backpack and school-issued laptop were later recovered from the same dumpster by detectives.

Family Notified, Investigation Ongoing

Madeline’s family has been notified of the tragic discovery, and the Kissimmee Police Department has taken over the case as it transitions into a homicide investigation. Chief Betty Holland urges the public to come forward with any tips that may aid in the investigation.

Sterns’ Movements on Fateful Day

Sterns was observed driving a silver 2010 Lincoln MKZ with a potential flat tire on Monday between 1 and 2:30 p.m. in the area of State Road 192 and Old Hickory Tree and Nulty roads. Authorities believe he may have been changing the tire during this period. Sterns, currently held on capital sexual battery charges, has not provided any information regarding the case and has been moved to the Osceola County Jail.

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