The Disturbing Case of Madeline Soto

1h 3m | Jun 11, 2024

Warning: This episode discusses topics related to sexual violence. Please listen with caution.

Case Background:

Madeline Soto was a 13-year-old girl living in Kissimmee, Florida. She was initially reported missing on February 26, 2024, after her mom, Jennifer Soto, went to pick her up from school, and Madeline was nowhere to be found.

At the time, Jennifer Soto told police that Madeline was dropped off across the street from her school in a church parking lot by her mom's long-time/live-in boyfriend, Stephan Sterns. Stephan Sterns said he watched Madeline walk from the church parking lot towards the school but didn't watch Madeline walk all the way to see that she made it in.

A massive 4-day search effort by multiple law enforcement agencies to find Madeline quickly ensued.

In the immediate aftermath of her disappearance, investigators turned their attention to Stephan Sterns. Law enforcement found several disturbing pictures and videos on his phone of Madeline. He was later arrested on 60 charges, including capital sexual battery, lewd or lascivious molestation, and unlawful possession of materials depicting sexual performance by a child.

Tragically, on March 1, 2024, Madeline was found deceased near a wooded area on Hickory Tree Rd. in Osceola County. This is the same area where Stephan Sterns's car was reported as being seen on the day Madeline went missing.

Through several press conferences and news statements, law enforcement has stated that they believe that Madeline was already dead the morning she disappeared and that Stephan Sterns was actually moving her body at the time he was supposed to take her to school.

Police also revealed that security footage shows Stephan Sterns dumping Madeline's backpack and her school laptop in an apartment complex dumpster at 7:35 am that morning. Additionally, police have video footage of Stephan Sterns returning to the dumpster, with what appears to be Madeline visibly deceased in the car.

In April of 2024, Stephan Sterns was indicted on first-degree murder by a grand jury. He is now being held without bail at Osceola County Jail. On June 10, 2024, prosecutors announced that they will be seeking the death penalty against Stephan Sterns for Madeline's murder.

Body Cam Footage Compilation:

Gray Hughes Investigates


Fox Orlando

WFTV Channel 9

About Hidden True Crime:

Lauren Matthias was a television reporter for a decade and has followed the Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell case since 2019. She and her husband, Dr. John Matthias, a criminal psychologist, started Hidden True Crime in 2020 with their Season, 'Beyond the Veil,' a psychological deep dive into the doomsday murders and prophet.

What started as a simple conversation at their dinner table became a captivating podcast. Join the dynamic duo of Dr. John Matthias, a forensic psychologist, and Lauren Matthias, an investigative journalist, as they delve into the psychological facets of unthinkable crimes every week. Their unique perspectives and in-depth analysis offer a fresh take on true crime storytelling.

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