Stephan Sterns waives public appearance again, homicide charges not yet filed for Madeline Soto

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — After refusing to cooperate with investigators earlier this week, Stephan Sterns is letting his public defender do the talking for him in Osceola County.


He waived his public appearance and reading of the child sex charges in court Saturday. Sterns is being held at the Osceola County jail without bond.

This all comes five days after the disappearance of his girlfriend’s daughter, 13-year-old Madeline Soto.

Search efforts quickly turned into recovery Wednesday as Sterns was in Orange County.

This came after deputies found pictures on his phone of him sexually battering a child.

Investigators said he tried to delete them Monday by factory resetting his phone.

Read: Madeline Soto’s body found in rural Osceola County

Channel 9 spoke to Sterns and Soto’s mom right before the arrest.

He said he gave the middle schooler a ride to class that Monday morning.

Sterns told Channel 9 he didn’t have a clue where she could be – but investigators later determined that was a lie.

Sterns was captured on camera throwing her backpack and school laptop into a dumpster Monday morning.

Deputies said Soto’s body was seen in Sterns’ car before he drove away.

Read: 2 killed after motorcycle was rear-ended on I-4, troopers say

His car was seen driving down Old Hickory Tree Toad that afternoon.

That rural part of Osceola County is where teams returned Friday for the biggest development in the case happening around 6 p.m.

Kissimmee police are not giving any new updates on the case as they work to build an air-tight case before filing charges for homicide.

“What I do know is that our Forensic Unit and Detectives are working tirelessly to collect evidence, conduct follow-ups, investigate leads, and work towards preparing the best case possible for such a sad situation,” said a spokesperson for Kissimmee Police. “The main focus is this case and we will continue to work on every angle and aspect of it.”

Soto’s mom is not being considered a suspect at this time.

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