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First degree murder charge filed in the death of 13-year-old Madeline Soto

Kissimmee Police Screenshot
State Attorney Andrew Bain discusses the charges in the case.

Stephan Sterns has been indicted with first degree murder in the death of Orange County School student Madeline Soto. Sterns was the boyfriend of Soto’s mom.

The 13-year-old was a student at Hunter’s Creek Middle School in Orange County, whose disappearance and death sparked attendance changes in the district.

Kissimmee Police Chief Betty Holland said she hopes these charges can help bring closure to Madeline’s friends and family including her classmates.

“We know this case has gained significant public attention because Madeline had just celebrated her 13th birthday and was just a child. The evidence shows an individual that was entrusted to keep Madeline safe, made calculated moves to dispose of Madeline's belongings and place her body in a wooded area before she was ever reported missing,” Holland said.

State Attorney Andrew Bain said it’s possible the death penalty will still be sought in the case.

“And that's a discussion that we're still going to be having for the next couple of weeks to make sure that we're making a legal decision that's appropriate in this case,” Bain said.

Earlier this month, parents in Orange County Schools started to get an extra call home when their child was absent from school after a public outcry following Soto’s death.

By next year, the district will make it easier for parents to track whether their child is in class period by period. Soto’s mom said she was never notified by the district that her daughter was missing.

Watch the full press conference here.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.
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