Madeline Soto case: Records reveal new details about timeline Stephan Sterns gave detectives

ORLANDO, Fla. — Channel 9 has obtained disturbing records that reveal new details about the investigation into the death of 13-year-old Madeline Soto.


The documents reveal a timeline of events that her suspected killer, Stephan Sterns, gave law enforcement Feb. 27, the day after the girl’s mother reported her missing.

“We woke up around 7 -- 7:15 -- somewhere around there, which is an early start for us,” Sterns said during an interview with detectives. “But we had talked about getting McDonald’s breakfast beforehand, so we want to make good time. We did make good time. We got out the door maybe 7:30 -- 7:45 maybe. Got over to that area. She was asleep in the car most of the time, just snoozing until we got there.”

Photos: Madeline Soto

Sterns later said Soto changed her mind and did not want the breakfast, so they went to school.

Jenn Soto, Madeline Soto’s mother, told investigators that she saw her daughter getting ready for school Feb. 26, the day she vanished.

During the interview, Sterns never mentioned what Jenn Soto knew about the morning her daughter was last seen.

He was calm, but could not always give a straight answer to investigators’ questions.

Read: Stephan Sterns charged with 1st-degree murder in Madeline Soto’s death

Later in the interview, Sterns said Madeline Soto decided against ordering breakfast, and he dropped her off at a church near her school -- along with her backpack and laptop -- because she was embarrassed by his car.

Detectives later learned that Sterns was recorded on video tossing the girl’s backpack and laptop in a dumpster at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 26.

Detectives already knew that Madeline Soto was dead.

Video showed the girl slumped over in the front seat of Sterns’ car.

Read: ‘I miss her so much’: Madeline Soto’s biological father speaks out about death, disappearance

Sterns willingly gave investigators his cellphone but claimed he accidentally completed a factory reset of the phone while installing an update shortly before he claimed he drove her to school.

The reset erased all calls, mapping information and videos from his electronics.

“I don’t know where my head was,” he told investigators. “Yesterday was so far up my backside.”

There remains a huge gap in the timeline Sterns gave detectives -- particularly between the hours of 8:30 p.m. Feb. 25 and 7:30 a.m. Feb 26.

Read: Madeline Soto case: Stephan Sterns faces 60 new charges

Much of that information has not yet been made public, but it did help prosecutors files murder charges against Sterns.

Channel 9 received new information about how Sterns spent his time with the girl and her mother as well as their sleeping arrangements.

Watch Channel 9 Eyewitness News, beginning at 4 p.m., to learn what else the documents reveal.

Click here to download our free news, weather and smart TV apps. And click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly,

Jason Kelly joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2014. He serves as the station's Digital Executive Producer.

Comments on this article





mobile apps

Everything you love about and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!