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Prosecutors File 60 New Charges Against “Disney Cast Member” Suspect in Madeline Soto Murder Case in Orlando

stephan sterns madeline soto case kissimmee florida
Credit: Orange County Sheriff's Office/Instagram/Jenn Soto/Canva

Sixty new charges have been filed against Stephan Sterns, the prime suspect in the disappearance and murder of 13-year-old Madeline Soto, but not for her murder.

stephan sterns madeline soto case

Suspect Stephan Sterns / Credit: Kissimmee Police Department / Canva

WARNING: The following article mentions and/or discusses topics that may be distressing for certain audiences. Viewer discretion is advised. 

State Attorney’s Office Files New Charges

Prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office for the Ninth Judicial Circuit have filed 60 new charges against Stephan Sterns, the prime suspect in the disappearance and murder of 13-year-old Madeline Soto, and the boyfriend of the young girl’s mother, but so far, no one, including Sterns, has been charged with her murder.

madeline soto

Madeline Soto/Credit: Soto Family/social media

Related: One Week Since the Body of 13-Year-Old Madeline Soto Was Found & Still No Proof of the Suspect’s Employment at Disney World

Sterns, 37, will now face 40 charges of possession of child sex abuse material, which was found by investigators on Sterns’s smartphone. He also faces seven counts of molestation and 13 counts of sexual battery of a minor. Eight of those 13 counts are related to alleged abuse of a minor under the age of 12.

The Abuse Began in 2022, Possibly Earlier

Previously released arrest affidavits from the Kissimmee Police Department indicate that Sterns had been sexually abusing Madeline, who was reported missing on February 26, since at least 2022, when she was just 11 years old.

Stephan Sterns arrest

Credit: Orange County Sheriff’s Office

It is not clear at this time whether the 60 additional charges, which were filed by prosecutors on Monday, involve other victims in addition to Madeline Soto.

“The State Attorney’s Office has been working closely with [the Kissimmee Police Department] and received evidence that gave us cause to file formal charges against Sterns,” explained Orange-Osceola State Attorney Andrew Bain in a statement about the new charges.

“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.”

Body Discovered, But Still No Murder Charges

As of the time of this publication, law enforcement officials have not publicly discussed the timing of any murder charges against Sterns, who claims to have been working as a cast member at the Walt Disney World Resort, as the investigation into the disappearance of Madeline Soto–who was reported missing on February 26–and her death.

The body of the young girl was discovered by detectives on Friday, March 1, at approximately 4:30 p.m. in a wooded area along Old Hickory Tree Road in Osceola County, approximately 32 miles southeast of the Walt Disney World Resort.

map of disney world to hickory tree road

Credit: Google Maps

Soto’s Mother: Not a Suspect at This Time

Madeline Soto’s mother, Jenn Soto, is not currently a suspect in the case, but investigators have noted inconsistencies in the accounts she has given during interviews with law enforcement officials.

The inconsistencies have emerged in Jenn Soto’s accounts as to the details of the day on February 26, the day on which the teenage girl disappeared.

madeline soto and jenn soto

Madeline Soto (R) and her mother, Jenn Soto (L)/Credit: Instagram/Jenn Soto

The Extent of the New Charges Against Sterns

Just two days after Madeline Soto was reported missing, investigators unveiled several disturbing images and videos on Sterns’ phone. There was also evidence of an attempt to remove the images.

Following the discovery, Kissimmee Police officers quickly arrested Sterns, who is currently being held at the Osceola County Department of Corrections without bond.

madeline soto stephan sterns suspect

Credit: Orange County Sheriff’s Office

Since that time, however, investigators have uncovered additional images and videos that depict criminal acts. The evidence was turned over to the State Attorney’s Office, which then had just cause to file the following additional charges against Stephan Sterns:

  • Eight counts of Sexual Battery on a Child Under 12
  • Five counts of Sexual Battery with a Child 12-18
  • Seven counts of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation
  • 40 counts of Unlawful Possession of Materials Depicting Sexual Performance by a Child–10 or More Images

“We appreciate the efforts of our partners in the State Attorney’s Office in assisting with seeking justice for Madeline,” said Kissimmee Chief of Police Betty Holland. “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.”

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Madeline Soto’s friends, family, and community during this extremely difficult time.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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