Madeline Soto’s mom told police it was normal for teen to sleep in same bed as stepfather: report

Madeline Soto’s mom told police it was normal for teen to sleep in same bed as stepfather: report

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Madeline Soto’s mother told police that it was normal for her daughter to sleep in her stepfather, Stephan Stern’s bed, NBC News affiliate WESH reported. .

Last month, Sterns was charged with first-degree murder and sex abuse in connection with Soto’s death.

Officials said Sterns was supposed to drop the 13-year-old off at school the day she disappeared.

He reportedly told investigators she “wanted to be dropped off a little down the ways from the school.”

During a Feb. 27 interrogation, he said the teen was “very particular about what car she (was seen) getting out of in front of the school,” according to WESH.

Related video: Stephan Sterns charged with first-degree murder in the death of Madeline Soto

But Soto never made it to school. Her body was found on March 1, five days after she disappeared. Officials said on the day she disappeared, Sterns was spotted in the area where her body was found. That same day, he was caught on camera throwing items into the dumpster where Madeline’s backpack and school laptop were found, authorities said.

After he threw away those items, Sterns was allegedly seen on video returning to his apartment complex with Madeline in the car. Investigators believe she was already dead at that time.

“She’s a very good girl. Definitely doesn’t feel the same around here if she’s not here,” Sterns told investigators.

WESH obtained court documents showing sworn statements from police in Kissimmee, detailing their discussion with Jennifer Soto, Madeline’s mother on March 14.

“[Jennifer Soto] stated while they were together they… [Jennifer, Stephen and Madeline]… would either all sleep in the same bed or [Madeline] would sleep with her when Stephan was not there,” one statement said, according to WESH.

Jennifer reportedly told police it was normal for Stephan and Madeline to share the same bed when she wasn’t there.

“[Jennifer Soto] stated if she needed a good night [sic] sleep due to her anxiety, she would ask them [Stephen and Madeline] to sleep in a different bedroom.”

“Stephan stated [Madeline] always needed human contact when going to sleep. Stephan referred to it as ‘snuggling.'”

Sterns was arrested and charged with 60 counts related to sexual battery and possession of child pornography. Police said they found “disturbing” images and video on his phone that show he had been sexually abusing Soto since 2019, when she was just 8 years old.

A jury trial is set for Aug. 19, 2024.

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