Body of missing 13-year-old girl in Florida has been located, sheriff’s office says

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office on Friday confirmed that the body of Madeline Soto, 13, has been located.

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Authorities in Florida on Friday confirmed that the body of Madeline Soto, 13, has been located.

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Soto’s body was found in a wooded area at around 4:30 p.m. Friday by Osceola County Sheriff’s Office search teams, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.

“Madeline’s family has been notified. We have no additional information to release at this time. Kissimmee PD is the lead agency in this homicide investigation. That work continues,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Kissimmee Police Department said that Soto was reported missing on Monday. During their investigation, Stephan Sterns was identified as a prime suspect in her disappearance.

Sterns was identified as the boyfriend of Soto’s mother by the sheriff’s office, according to WFTV.

At a news conference on Friday afternoon, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said that Soto was not located but he was confident that she was dead. Mina said that all efforts moved to a body recovery and that the Kissimmee Police Department was taking the lead in the investigation, the news outlet reported.

Orange County Public Schools released a statement from Superintendent Maria Vazquez, according to WFTV.

“I am heartbroken to hear from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office of the tragic death of our precious student Madeline Soto. My thoughts and prayers go out to Maddie’s family and her school community. To lose a child so suddenly and tragically is extremely difficult, especially for family and friends. Counselors continue to be available for any student or staff member dealing with the news. I ask that you keep the entire Hunter’s Creek Middle School community in your prayers as they grieve the loss of one of their own.”

A prayer vigil is expected for Friday around 7 p.m.