The Tragic Case of Madeline Soto: Missing Florida Teen’s Search Now a Murder Investigation

True Crime Lounge
3 min readMar 2, 2024

In a heart-wrenching turn of events that gripped the Kissimmee community and beyond, the disappearance of 13-year-old Madeline Soto came to a tragic conclusion. The young girl, known for her bright smile and kind heart, vanished under mysterious circumstances, leading to an intensive search that ended with the discovery of her body. This case has not only devastated a family but also raised grave concerns about child safety and the sinister underbelly of those trusted to protect.

The Disappearance

Madeline Soto, a vibrant 13-year-old student at Hunter’s Creek Middle School, was reported missing on the morning of February 26, 2024. Her last known location was near her school in Kissimmee, Florida. Madeline was last seen wearing a green sweatshirt, black shorts, and white Crocs. The community’s immediate response was to launch a widespread search, hoping for Madeline’s safe return.

The Investigation Unfolds

The investigation into Madeline’s disappearance took a dark turn when Stephan Sterns, 37, the boyfriend of Madeline’s mother, emerged as the prime suspect. Orange County Sheriff John Mina disclosed chilling evidence, including video footage showing Sterns disposing of Madeline’s belongings and driving a car with what appeared to be her lifeless body inside. These discoveries, coupled with the finding of her clothes and backpack in a dumpster, painted a grim picture of the events surrounding her disappearance.

Tragic Discovery

After nearly a week of tireless searching by more than 50 law enforcement personnel, the body of Madeline Soto was found in a wooded area off Hickory Tree Road on March 1, 2024. The discovery confirmed the worst fears of the community and her family, who had been informed just the day before that Madeline was likely deceased. The investigation swiftly transitioned into a homicide case, with Kissimmee Police Department taking the lead.

Charges and Allegations

Stephan Sterns was arrested on charges of sexual battery and possession of child pornography, raising alarming questions about his relationship with Madeline and…

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