Madeline Soto case: New Stephan Sterns documents detail Google Drive, sleeping arrangements, security footage

Warning: Some of the details in this news report are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.

FOX 35 has obtained new documents from the Florida State Attorney's Office in the Madeline Soto investigation

These documents provide new details previously unknown, including the initial interview police had with Stephan Sterns, Madeline's mom's boyfriend, his timeline of what happened the day Madeline was reported missing, the 1,700 sexually explicit images allegedly found on his cell phone, and details about his relationship with the 13-year-old girl.

The documents – mainly investigative reports, summaries and a recorded interview between Sterns and a detective – provide graphic, potentially disturbing, details that led to the 60 child sex-related charges Sterns was initially arrested on two days after Madeline was reported missing. It also offers details on Sterns' timeline of what happened in the hours before and after Madeline was reportedly dropped off at school; officials and law enforcement said Madeline actually never made it to class that day.

The recorded interview was recorded on Feb. 27, the day before he was described by law enforcement as a "prime suspect" in her disappearance. He had also not yet been charged with any crimes related to the alleged images found on his cell phone or her disappearance and death at the time of that interview. 


Stephan Sterns was arrested and booked into the Orange County jail on charges of sexual battery and possession of child sexual abuse material after detectives found "disturbing" images on his phone, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said. (Orange Co

Sterns was indicted by a grand jury and charged with first-degree murder on April 25, nearly two months after Madeline's body was found in a grassy area in Osceola County.

The State Attorney's Office has not publicly commented on the release of these documents, but FOX 35 has asked for a statement. It should also be noted that these documents pertain to the 60 charges Sterns is facing for sexual battery and molestation, and not the murder charge. 

FOX 35 previously reported on the list of evidence that the State Attorney's Office had in its possession related to the homicide investigation. That list included statements, logs, incident reports from law enforcement, social media accounts possibly tied to Madeline, car and cellphone tracking information, and a Medical Examiner's Office report.  

Details on how Madeline died or the circumstances surrounding her death have not been released. The Medical Examiner's Office has declined to release her autopsy report, citing the investigation and state law.


Here's what we learned from the new documents: 

Documents: Over 1,700 images found in Google Drive account on Stephan Sterns' cell phone

As detectives were searching for Madeline, officials arrested Sterns, alleging that he had child sex abuse material on his cell phone. He had voluntarily provided his cell phone to law enforcement to presumably aid in those search efforts. However, he told them that he had inadvertently performed a factory reset on his phone prior to giving it to law enforcement.

Shortly after, Sterns was booked into jail and charged with 60 counts of sexual battery, lewd and lascivious molestation, and unlawful possession of materials depicting the sexual performance of a child.

"I don't know what the heck I did, but somehow, during the massive OS update, I managed to factory reset my phone and lose all of my contacts, all my information," Sterns told police officers, according to a 43-minute recording obtained by FOX 35 in that public records request.

FOX 35 previously reported that the images allegedly found on Sterns' phone were graphic and sexual, and the subject appeared to be a child, according to the probable cause statement connected to those charges. The documents alleged that the photos dated back to June 2019.

According to the newly released documents, law enforcement allegedly found some 1,700 images within a folder within a Google Drive account. Several of those images were explicit, and some appeared to be of Madeline, and they were taken over at least two years.


The documents also alleged there was "ongoing sexual abuse" between Sterns and Madeline.

In the interview with police, Sterns confirmed he had saved photos to a Google Drive account and that there were photos of him and Madeline, the report said.  

"When I asked Stephan about all the pictures he had saved, Stephan then asked if he should be talking to a lawyer. Shortly after that, Stephan requested an attorney," a detective wrote in the report.

Documents: Stephan Sterns occasionally slept in the same bed with Jenn Soto and Madeline

The documents also provide details about some of the sleeping arrangements within their home.

Jenn Soto, Madeline's mother, told detectives that she and Sterns had dated on and off for at least seven years and that he lived on and off at the home. When he was at home, however, it was not unusual for the three of them to sleep in the same bed or for him to sleep in the same bed as Madeline while Jenn slept somewhere else or was not home, according to the documents.

These details were contained in a law enforcement summary report following a conversation with Jenn during the search for her daughter and in law enforcement conversations with Sterns.

Sterns told law enforcement that Madeline "always needed human contact when going to sleep," something that Sterns referred to as "snuggling," the report said. 


Madeline Soto crime scene photo 'accidentally' shared on Osceola County Sheriff's social media: officials 

Documents: Madeline Soto's mom reacts to photo of alleged abuse

In the same conversation between law enforcement and Jenn, the report implies that detectives let her know about their suspicions of the alleged sexual abuse.

The report states that "[redacted] did not want (to) believe [redacted] and Stephan were engaged in sexual activity. [Redacted] asked to see the image of Stephan and [redacted]."

When shown a printed photo of what was allegedly found on the Google Drive, Madeline's mom claimed she did not "recognize anything in the picture, as if she was in denial" and later "became visibly upset," the document states.

To be clear, Jenn has not been named an official person of interest or suspect connected to her daughter's disappearance or death, nor has she been charged with anything related to the case. 

However, officials previously said everyone who was close to Madeline was considered a suspect until ruled out. It's also unclear how much or how little Jenn and her family are cooperating with the investigation. Investigators couldn't answer those questions at a news conference last month, citing the ongoing case.

Stephan Sterns' timeline from the morning of Madeline's disappearance riddled with inconsistencies, interview shows

In a 43-minute interview with law enforcement on the day Madeline was reported missing, police talked with Sterns about where he was during the morning hours, the route he took to take Madeline to school, and where he went immediately after.

In the interview, Sterns appears to have difficulty placing the exact roads and the route he took on the way to Hunter's Creek Middle School and at what times. He blamed apparent inconsistencies in that timeline on not being a morning person and for taking apparent prescribed medications for anxiety when questioned by detectives, according to the report.

911 calls from morning Madeline Soto went missing released 

Here are a few of Sterns' recounts to police, as heard in the interview:

  • Sterns said he and Madeline discussed getting breakfast at McDonald's before school, but they never got it.
  • Sterns said he was unfamiliar with the road names on his route to Madeline's school.
  • Sterns said he and Madeline both forgot their phones at home that day.
  • Sterns forgot to mention to police that he drove all the way back to Kissimmee to retrieve the gate clicker for his neighborhood before dropping Madeline off at school.
  • Sterns visited a smoke shop after dropping Madeline off at school, twice.
  • Sterns forgot to mention to police that he'd gotten a flat tire after dropping Madeline off at school.

Stephan Sterns, Jenn Soto did not look for Madeline when she was reported missing, Sterns tells police

In an interview with police, Sterns said he and Jenn "stayed local" while the rest of her family went out to physically look for Madeline. An officer asked Sterns if he and Jenn had driven together or separately, and he said he didn't think they had driven anywhere at all. 

He said he was "zonked out" on anxiety medication and was unable to recall where he was. 

"My brain was mush, and I was on so many tranquilizers to keep me stabilized," he said, according to the interview.


Documents: Surveillance video captured person ‘slumped over’ in Stephan Sterns vehicle 

According to the report, during the search for Madeline, detectives obtained surveillance video from the entrance to the gated community in Kissimmee where Sterns, Jenn and Madeline lived.

The surveillance video showed Sterns' vehicle leaving the complex with a "female wearing a green sweater" in the front seat, the report said. 

"The female was slumped over to her left, which is an abnormal way for a person to be seated in a vehicle," the report added.

During the initial search for Madeline, law enforcement previously said they had obtained surveillance video that showed her in a vehicle and that they believed she was dead at the time that surveillance video was captured.

This newly obtained document does not say what time the surveillance footage was captured, nor does it identify the person in the green sweater as Madeline. Again, details about the circumstances of how Madeline died, how she was found and what she was wearing have not been confirmed or released by law enforcement.

Jenn and Sterns told detectives that Madeline had been dropped off at school on the morning of Feb. 26. Law enforcement ultimately determined that Madeline was not in school that day. 

Suspect Stephan Sterns complains about jail, sleeping on concrete during transport 

Later, investigators found Madeline's backpack and school-issued laptop in the dumpster of an apartment complex in Kissimmee. It remains unclear at this time if her belongings were found at this same apartment complex where the surveillance video was captured. 

It's also unclear when exactly Madeline was killed, but detectives believe it was between Feb. 25 and Feb. 27, according to documents. 


What's next in Stephan Sterns case?

A pre-trial hearing for Sterns' murder case is scheduled for July 10, with a trial set for July 16, according to Osceola County court records. 

Regarding the sexual battery case, Sterns' pre-trial hearing is scheduled for July 10, with a trial set for Aug. 19, records show. 

These dates are subject to change.