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Florida Man Accused of First-Degree Murder in Connection with the Rape and Death of Madeline 'Maddie' Soto

A Florida man, Stephan Sterns, who already faces numerous sexual assault charges linked to the February death of 13-year-old Madeline "Maddie" Soto, now confronts a capital murder charge in connection with her demise, as revealed by court documents from the Osceola County Circuit Court.

Initially arrested by the Kissimmee Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff's Office on February 29, Sterns is accused of 60 child sex abuse-related charges. The charge of first-degree murder was added on Wednesday, making him the prime suspect in Maddie's tragic fate.

Maddie vanished from her Kissimmee home on February 26, and her remains were discovered on March 1. Sterns was reportedly the last person seen with her alive, as per an announcement by the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Scheduled for arraignment on Monday before Judge Keith Carsten, Sterns could potentially face the death penalty if found guilty of capital murder.

In the footage retrieved from the day of Maddie's disappearance, Sterns was observed disposing of items in a dumpster at the family's apartment complex in Kissimmee around 7:35 a.m. Subsequently, Maddie's backpack was recovered from that dumpster. Later footage allegedly captured Sterns returning home around 8:20 a.m. with Maddie visible in the car, though investigators suspect she was already deceased by then.

The investigation also uncovered disturbing images on Sterns' phone, some of which he purportedly attempted to delete. These alleged sex crimes reportedly occurred at Maddie's residence.

Currently incarcerated without bond, Sterns awaits legal proceedings for the capital murder charge. As of Thursday, there was no indication of an attorney of record for this particular charge posted online.

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