Madeline Soto’s biological father says he was blindsided by her death, seeks closure

ORLANDO, Fla. — This weekend, Madeline Soto’s biological father visited the site where his daughter’s body was found in St. Cloud.


9 Investigates Reporter Shannon Butler sat down with Tyler Wallace on Friday to talk about his daughter and her death.

Wallace did not put any restrictions on the questions, but he did want to talk about why he had no idea what his daughter was going through.

He also does not want other fathers to suffer the same regrets.

Read: Father of Madeline Soto joins community during honoring vigil

Tyler and Tatiana Wallace saw Madeline Soto in October 2023, and they had no idea it would be the last time.

The couple kept in touch, paid child support and gave a little extra for flute lessons.

But because they lived thousands of miles away from Madeline and finances were tight, they rarely saw her.

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

“We had her in October,” Tatiana Wallace said. “We had her in October, and I just wish she would have told me; I would have taken her away from that.”

It’s something that will haunt Wallace forever.

“I just wish I could’ve seen her more,” he said. “I wish I could have had her more and I struggle with that. I will always struggle with that.”

Wallace told Channel 9 that Stephan Sterns, Soto’s mother’s boyfriend, was in and out of her life for about five years.

Read: Madeline Soto timeline: Only Channel 9 speaks with Maddie Soto’s father

He didn’t know Sterns well, but had no reason to believe that he would soon be arrested, accused of sexual battery with dozens of graphic recordings on his phone.

And there are still questions about what happened and why.

" I don’t know yet, the whole story. And it’s painful to be in that state of waiting, waiting to understand how I feel. But the truth is, I don’t know how I feel yet. It’s hard. It’s flip-flopping and speculating, and that’s difficult. That takes a toll on you. And that’s why I’m just trying to grieve privately with my family and process this loss for us. And I do want support from the public. And but I don’t feel right sending mobs and pitchforks. I want to focus on Maddie and her loss and what I could have done better. Not as a guilting myself thing, but as helping other fathers who are struggling to have relationships with their children.”

Wallace will continue to fight for answers and try to find a way to move on.

“It’s not fair; life isn’t fair,” he said. “You know, I love my little girl. We were patient. We were taking our time. By our belief, we were doing everything right. And it just happened like this. And there’s no ‘the rest of her life’...there’s no making up for it. There’s no improvement. It’s just done now.”

On Friday, Wallace said he was trying to get Maddie’s ashes to bring home.

His attorney did get those ashes from Jennifer Soto, and he and his family are heading back home.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler,

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.





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