Madeline Soto’s body found days after 13-year-old disappeared

The body of missing 13-year-old Florida schoolgirl Madeline Soto has been found by police days after she disappeared.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said that the teenager’s body was discovered off Hickory Tree Road in Osceola County at around 4.30pm ET on Friday.

The grim resolution came just hours after Sheriff John Mina announced that his detectives were “confident” that the youngster was dead, and alleged she had been killed by her mother’s boyfriend Stephan Sterns.

Her body was reportedly found in the same area where Mr Sterns was seen between 1pm and 2.30pm on Monday, driving his Lincoln MKZ with a flat tyre, according to authorities.

The 13-year-old was reported missing on Monday morning in Kissimmee. Her mother’s boyfriend had said he had dropped her off at school, but Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that she was never taken to school and that instead, they believed Stephan Sterns, 37, had killed her.

Sheriff John Mina told reporters that officers had met with Madeline’s mother on Thursday night to tell her they were “confident” her daughter was dead and that the search was now underway for her body.

“Our detectives have determined that Madeline was never dropped off on the morning of February 26 near her school. Instead, we believe she was already dead.”

He explained how OCSO had video evidence which appeared to prove that, showing Mr Sterns throwing items into a dumpster behind their apartment building at around 7.35am. Those items included the teen’s backpack and her school-issued laptop.

The Kissimmee Police Department is now taking over the case, with Mr Sterns now being held on capital sexual battery charges.

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