Jenn Soto and Stephan Sterns talk to deputies in newly released videos

Posted at 3:28 PM, June 4, 2024

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Court TV) — Newly released videos are offering new insight into the first minutes of the search for Madeline Soto, the 13-year-old girl found dead in a wooded area days after she was reported missing.

Stephan Sterns and Jennifer Soto are seen on bodycamera

In a still taken from bodyworn camera video, Stephan Sterns and Jennifer Soto are seen talking to deputies. (Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

Soto’s body was found on Mar. 1 after her mother, Jennifer Soto, reported her missing on Feb. 26. Jennifer told police that her boyfriend, Stephan Sterns, had dropped the teenager at school that morning. Sterns was later arrested and charged with child sex abuse for disturbing photos and videos of Madeline found on his phone just one day before her body was found, and then later charged with the child’s murder as well.

Court TV reviewed newly released videos from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that show deputies responding to the initial report of Madeline’s disappearance. Jennifer and Sterns are inside an insurance and tax office, which Jennifer said she had come to in the hopes of finding her daughter. “I went to pick her up from school today and she never came out. … I thought maybe she walked here because sometimes she’ll walk here to this office. I came here, nothing.”

READ MORE | Madeline Soto slept in Stephan Sterns’ bed, documents say

Stephan Sterns booking Photo

Stephan Sterns was charged two days after 13-year-old Madeline Soto disappeared. (Osceola County Sheriff’s Office)

Throughout the conversation, Sterns stood behind Jennifer with his arms crossed. He spoke first when deputies asked about what Madeline was last seen wearing, saying that she was wearing a green hoodie, white Crocs and blue or black pants. Jennifer corrected Sterns, noting, “I think black shorts.”

Other videos released by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office showed deputies searching the area around the school and the church where Sterns said he dropped Madeline off with a tracking dog. One video featured Sterns walking through the area alongside the deputy, as he described dropping Madeline off and watching her walk away. Investigators have said in court documents that they believe Sterns was lying about dropping her off, and that surveillance videos show the teenager dead in the car as he appeared to throw her belongings into a dumpster.

One video shows deputies approaching the home where Sterns lived with Madeline and her mother, but the video is fully redacted after the door opens to reveal both Jennifer and Sterns.

Jennifer has not been charged in connection with the case. Prosecutors have not said whether they will seek the death penalty against Sterns.