Who is Stephan Sterns Kissimmee, Madeline Soto Alleged Murderer?

Stephan Sterns of Kissimmee, Florida, the boyfriend of Madeline Soto’s mom Jenn, has been arrested as the prime suspect in her murder.

In the latest and saddest update to this case yet, Madeline Soto’s body was found in a wooded area off Hickory Tree Road on the afternoon of Friday, March 1 2024.

Authorities believe she was murdered by Stephan Sterns, her mommy’s boyfriend.

Authorities arrested Stephan Sterns Kissimmee Wednesday on charges of sxual battery and possession of child sxual abuse material after images and videos were found on his cell phone.

Although he has not been charged specifically in Madeline Soto’s disappearance, he is considered the prime suspect.

13-year-old Madeline Soto was last seen on Monday morning when her mother’s boyfriend dropped her off near Hunter’s Creek Middle School.

However, when her mom went to pick her up, she discovered that Madeline had never entered the school that day.

READ ALSO: Who is Jenn Soto Hunters Creek, Madeline Soto’s Mother?

Madeline’s phone was left at home on the day of her disappearance.

In a new update Friday, authorities said they now believe Stephan Sterns murdered Madeline Soto.

In this article, we take a look at Stephan Sterns, the prime suspect in her disappearance who was just arrested in Kissimmee.

Let’s dive in!

Who is Stephan Sterns Kissimmee?

stephan sterns kissimmee

Stephan Sterns of Kissimmee, Florida has been arrested by authorities as the prime suspect into the disappearance of Madeline ‘Maddie’ Soto after her body was discovered.

Madeline’s body was found around 4:30 p.m. by Osceola County Sheriff’s Office search teams in a wooded area off Hickory Tree Road, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in an update.

“Madeline’s family has been notified. We have no additional information to release at this time. Kissimmee PD is the lead agency in this homicide investigation. That work continues,” the sheriff’s office said.

It is believed Madeline was killed in Kissimmee, where her family lived in an apartment, and that Sterns moved her body in the early morning hours Monday, Mina said.

“We have evidence that shows Stephen Stern’s returning to the complex and Madeline was visible in that vehicle. We believe she was already dead at that time,” the sheriff said.

Video evidence recovered by authorities showed Sterns discarding items in a dumpster at the Kissimmee apartment complex at 7:35 a.m. on Monday February 26.

Detectives later recovered Madeline’s backpack and her school-issued laptop from the dumpster.

Detectives informed Madeline’s mother about her suspected death Thursday night. 

Madeline Soto, a 13-year Florida teen was reported missing Monday night, officials said.

At a 1 p.m. press conference on Friday, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said detectives are “confident” that Madeline Soto is dead.

Sheriff Mina said detectives believe her mom’s boyfriend, Stephan Sterns, killed Madeline in Kissimmee and never took her to school. However, he has not yet been charged with the girl’s death.

Deputies have been following leads, searching neighborhoods and nearby areas of Orlando where she was last scene.

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On Wednesday, authorities announced that 37-year-old Stephan Sterns of Kissimmee, the boyfriend of Jenn Soto, Madeline’s mom, had been arrested.

jenn soto and boyfriend, stephan sterns

He was set to appear before a judge Thursday morning, but he waived his first appearance, according to the Orange County Corrections Department. 

Sterns is being held in jail without bond. 

What do we know of Stephan Sterns Kissimmee?

According to LinkedIn, Stephan Sterns is a Real Estate Agent based in Kissimmee, Florida, United States.

His experience, again via LinkedIn, consists of 2 years as a Permit Coordinator with Smart Build Capital in Orlando and 3 years as a Real Estate Agent with Home Clicks Realty.

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), Sterns was arrested and booked into jail on charges of sxual battery and possession of child sxual abuse material after detectives found “disturbing” images on his phone.

Sterns had apparently attempted to delete the evidence from the phone.

According to OCSO, several s*xually explicit images and videos were found on Sterns’ cell phone.

Detectives said is appears that whatever alleged actions were captured in the images and videos happened at the family’s home in Kissimmee, Florida, which is just south of Orlando.

The Kissimmee Police Department will lead the investigation into Sterns’ s*xual battery case, officials said.

“Stephan Sterns had an opportunity tonight to come clean with detectives and help lead them to information about Maddie’s disappearance,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said in a statement.

“Her loved ones deserve answers and OCSO and the Kissimmee Police will not stop until we find Maddie.”

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by Channel 9, Stephan Sterns did a factory reset on his phone the day Madeline vanished.

Investigators reveal in the affidavit that they recovered several photos and videos showing Sterns s*xually battering a child.

Incredulously, Stephan Sterns had spoken to Channel 9 crying and pleading for help to find Madeline mere hours before he was arrested for s*xual battery and possession of child s*x abuse material.

“I dropped her off early, but I could have waited longer,” Sterns told Channel 9 Tuesday beside Madeline’s mom.

According to Madeline Soto’s grandmother, her daughter Jenn and Stephan had been in a relationship for several years.

Sterns’ father, Christopher Sterns also said he was stunned and blindsided by the news of his son’s alleged crimes.

According to WFTV, Sterns is not a registered s*x offender, according to FDLE’s s*xual offenders and predators’ search.

This is the first time he’s been booked into the Orange County jail, and he has no criminal history except a handful of traffic violations.

Jenn Soto boyfriend, Stephan Sterns prime suspect in Madeline Soto disappearance

madeline soto missing

Madeline Soto, a 13-year-old girl from Florida, has been missing since Monday.

Madeline was last seen on Monday morning in Orlando.

Stephan Sterns, her mother’s boyfriend dropped her off a few blocks away from Hunter’s Creek Middle School on Town Loop Boulevard.

However, when her mom went to pick her up, she discovered that Madeline had never entered the school that day.

Madeline left her phone at home on the day of her disappearance. When deputies searched it, they found that she had told her friends she wanted to “live in the woods” after her 13th birthday, which she celebrated on February 22.

Over 100 personnel, including deputies, detectives, intelligence analysts, specialized personnel, and bloodhounds, have been deployed to search for her.

Flyers are being distributed in the area to raise awareness.

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The boyfriend of Madeline’s mom Jenn Soto, Stephan Sterns, is considered the last confirmed person to see her and is considered a “prime suspect.”

He has been arrested for possession of child s*xual abuse material but not directly charged in connection with Madeline’s disappearance.

stephen stearns

This situation is every parent’s worst nightmare, and authorities are committed to finding Madeline and ensuring her safety.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has classified her as “endangered,” indicating that her physical safety is at risk.

The search for 13-year-old Madeline Soto continues, with over 100 personnel actively looking for her in Orlando.

Related – Audrii Cunningham

The Madeline Soto case bears an uncanny resemblance to a recent missing persons case involving Audrii Cunningham.

Like Stephan Sterns of Kissimmee allegedly abducting Madeline Soto, Audrii Cunningham was also abducted by someone close to her.

Audrii Cunningham, an 11-year-old girl from Livingston, Texas, disappeared sometime after 7 a.m. on Thursday, February 15.

She was supposed to catch the bus to school at her neighborhood stop, but according to school officials, she was never picked up and never reported to school.

Here are the details surrounding her case:

Audrii was last seen on February 15.

Don Steven McDougal, a family friend who sometimes took Audrii to school, has been charged with her murder.

steven mcdougal livingston texas
Audrii Cunningham Steven McDougal

He was already in custody on an unrelated assault charge when the capital murder charge was added to his booking sheet.

Audrii’s body was recovered by divers in the Trinity River, approximately 10 miles from her family home. A backpack believed to be hers was traced in the area.

Mr. McDougal lived in a mobile home on Audrii’s family property near Lake Livingston, about 80 miles north of Houston.

Witnesses reported that Mr. McDougal was in the community, knocking on doors and asking if they had seen Audrii. He also participated in search efforts after she went missing.

A witness tied Mr. McDougal’s vehicle, a dark blue 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, to Audrii’s disappearance.

Mr. McDougal had previously pleaded no contest to two felony counts of enticing a child stemming from a 2007 incident near Houston and was sentenced to two years in prison.

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Authorities have not yet revealed how Audrii died, and her remains are being examined by the Harris County Medical Examiner.

This tragic case has left the community devastated, and authorities are committed to seeking justice for Audrii Cunningham.

It also shows the danger in ‘family friends’ around young girls, as both Stephan Sterns and Don McDougal knew their victims personally.

According to the most recent estimate from the National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART), approximately three in 1,000 children become victims of kidnapping by family members each year1.

This statistic highlights that while stranger abductions tend to receive more attention, abductions by close relatives are also a significant concern.

In addition, it’s essential to recognize that parents and other family members are responsible for over 90% of child abductions.

While stranger-perpetrated abductions are relatively rare, family dynamics play a crucial role in child safety. Vigilance and awareness within families are essential to prevent such incidents and protect our children.


Kissimmee is the largest city and county seat[5] of Osceola County, Florida, United States.

As of the 2020 census, the population was 79,226.

It is a Principal City of the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2020 population of 2,673,376.

The Census Bureau defines an urban area with Kissimmee as the principal city, which is separated from the Orlando urban area. The Kissimmee–St. Cloud, FL urban area had a 2020 population of 418,404, making it the 100th largest in the United States.

This area was originally named Allendale, after Confederate Major J. H. Allen who operated the first cargo steamboat along the Kissimmee River—the Mary Belle.

It was renamed Kissimmee when incorporated as a city in 1883. The modern town, which is the county seat of Osceola County, was founded before the Civil War by the Bass, Johnson and Overstreet families.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.32 square miles (44.9 km2), of which 16.7 square miles (43 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (2 km2) is water (3.7%).

Kissimmee and the city of St. Cloud are the only incorporated settlements in the county. The cities lie in proximity to each other along U.S. Highways 192 and 441.

A large geographical area of unincorporated Osceola County also refers to their area as Kissimmee.

This includes most of the 192 corridor west of the city border to Highway 27, areas north of the city to Hunters Creek, and areas south of the city to Poinciana.

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