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The prime suspect in the killing of a 13-year-old Florida girl found dead after going missing for a week faces an additional 60 charges for child sex crimes, authorities said Tuesday. 

Stephan Sterns, 37, faces eight counts of sexual battery of a child under 12, five counts of sexual battery with a child aged 12 to 18, seven counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and 40 counts of unlawful possession of materials depicting sexual performance by a child, according to the Kissimmee Police Department. 

Sterns was the boyfriend of Jennifer Soto, mother of Madeline Soto, who was found dead days after she went missing on Feb. 26.


Stephen Sterns AND Madeline Soto

Stephan Sterns, the prime suspect in the killing of Madeline Soto, 13, faces an additional 60 child sex crime charges, prosecutors said Tuesday.  (Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

“We appreciate the efforts of our partners in the State Attorney’s Office in assisting with seeking justice for Madeline,” Kissimmee Chief of Police Betty Holland said. “With this being a complex case with many facets, our work is not done, and we are continuing our investigation into the timeline leading up to Madeline’s death.”

Shortly after Madeline went missing, investigators found “disturbing” images and videos of the teenager on Stearns’ phone, police said. He was initially arrested on charges of sexual battery with a child, capital sexual battery and possession of material depicting sexual performance by a child and is being held with no bond.

“The State Attorney’s Office has been working closely with KPD and received evidence that gave us cause to file formal charges against Sterns,” State Attorney Andrew Bain said in a statement. “We appreciate the thoroughness and detailed attention of their investigation and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to build a strong case against the defendant.”

Missing girl Madeline "Maddie" Soto

Madeline Soto never made it to school on Feb. 26, and was found days later, authorities said.  (Orange County Sheriff’s Office)


The additional charges came days after Madeline’s body was found on March 1. She was last seen on Feb. 26 when Sterns was supposed to have dropped her off at school, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said.

Madeline never made it, and authorities said they believed she was already dead that morning. Sterns allegedly moved her body after dumping her backpack and school-issued laptop in a dumpster, authorities said. 

Louis Casiano is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected].

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