March 7, 2024

USA: Missing 13yo Girl Found Dead 17 Miles Away From Home. Court Documents Show Mom's Boyfriend Had Been Raping Her For 2yrs. Evidence Recovered From His Cellphone. Boyfriend Arrested.

FOX 35 Orlando published March 1, 2024: Timeline of Madeline Soto's disappearance, interview with mom, arrest of Stephan Stern. Madeline Soto was reported missing Monday by her mother, Jess Soto, who said Maddie never made it to school that day. Since Monday multiple developments have been made - including the arrest of Jess Soto's boyfriend, Stephan Sterns in the case. Deputies now say they believe Madeline Soto is dead after they saw Stern on video surveillance dumping some of her belongings in a dumpster.
WESH 2 News published March 5, 2024: Madeline Soto was sexually abused by mom’s boyfriend for years, documents say.
COURT TV published March 5, 2024: Madeline Soto Murder Case: Stephan Sterns' Interview Before Arrest. Before Stephan Sterns was arrested in the death of Madeline Soto, he appeared to cry in a TV interview saying he loved her and wanted the missing 13-year-old found.
WFTV Channel 9 pubilshed March 5, 2024: Madeline Soto: Story Jennifer Soto gave law enforcement doesn’t line up with what investigators know. Channel 9 learned Tuesday that the story Jennifer Soto -- the mother of 13-year-old Madeline Soto -- gave to law enforcement does not line up with what investigators know.
WESH 2 News published Mar 6, 2024: 'Really devastating': Community grieves loss of 13-year-old Madeline Soto.

written by Jason Kelly, and Shannon Butler
Tuesday March 5, 2024

ORLANDO, Fla. — Channel 9 learned Tuesday that the story Jennifer Soto -- the mother of 13-year-old Madeline Soto -- gave to law enforcement does not line up with what investigators know.

Channel 9 spoke one-on-one with Jennifer Soto on Feb. 27, a day after her daughter had been reported missing.

Soto told Channel 9 that her boyfriend, Stephan Sterns -- who is now the prime suspect in Madeline Soto’s death -- had taken the girl to school.

She said that the last conversation she had with her daughter happened the night before her disappearance.

But a report Channel 9 obtained Tuesday shows that Soto told deputies that she saw her daughter the morning of the girl’s disappearance.

No one has been charged in Madeline Soto’s death. But investigators are looking into who knew what, when. That means they are reviewing initial interviews of the couple and ones conducted later on.

Sources told Channel 9′s Shannon Butler that the statements about the timeline of Madeline Soto’s disappearance have not always been consistent.

Jennifer Soto told Channel 9 last week that the last conversation she had with her daughter was about her 13th birthday party the night before her disappearance.

“I told her ‘good night,’ and yeah, that was it,” she said.

But according to documents, Sunday night was not the last time Jennifer Soto saw her daughter.

Newly obtained documents show that the girl’s mother told deputies Feb. 26 that she saw her daughter getting dressed for school at 8 a.m. Monday, and Sterns then took her to school.

But since that initial report was taken, Channel 9 learned from Orange County Sheriff John Mina that Madeline Soto was likely dead earlier than that.

“Our detectives have determined that Madeline was never dropped off on the morning of Feb. 26 near her school,” Mina said during a news conference. “Instead, we believe she was already dead at the time, and that Stephan Sterns moved her body in the early morning hours of that day.”

Channel 9 has reviewed statements from Sterns and Jennifer Soto to try to piece together what happened in the final hours of Madeline Soto’s life.

“We dropped her off at school, close to school,” Jennifer Soto told Channel 9. “She wanted to walk the rest of the way.”

But in that same interview, she said this:

“I wasn’t the one who took her to school in the morning. That was my partner.”

Detectives believe that Madeline Soto was likely dead early Monday, because surveillance video recorded at the Kissimmee apartment complex where the family lived shows Sterns dumping her belongings in a dumpster at 7:35 a.m.

At 8:19 a.m., video shows the girl in Sterns’ vehicle, and she was believed to already be dead in that video, Mina said.

The Kissimmee Police Department has taken over the investigation into the girl’s death since Mina’s news conference.

Sources tell Channel 9 that Jennifer Soto has been interviewed multiple times by detectives from two agencies and that they are looking closely at all the statements she has made.

But Kissimmee police will not officially comment.

An initial report also shows that Sterns told investigators that after Madeline Soto got out of the car, she stopped to look in her backpack before he drove away. That backpack was discovered in a dumpster after her death.

Sterns said he went home for about an hour after going to a vape store and then ran errands and was home until 2:30 that day, the report said.

Detectives said a tip showed him changing a flat tire not far from where the girl’s body was found that afternoon.

Before Sterns’ arrest, he told Channel 9 that he dropped off Madeline Soto at school the morning of her disappearance.

“She was asleep for most of the way,” he said. “I told her ‘have a good day at school’ when she got out -- ‘I love her.’ She said, ‘Thanks, I love you, too.’ And that was it.”

Law enforcement officers believe Sterns never drove Madeline Soto to school and that she was already dead that morning.

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