Madeline Soto, a 13-year-old from Florida, has been missing since Monday (Feb. 26). Now, her mother’s boyfriend, Stephan Sterns, is reportedly a prime suspect in her disappearance, per multiple reports.

Mom’s BF Arrested For Possessing “Disturbing” Child Content

On Wednesday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office arrested Sterns after uncovering inappropriate child content on his phone. They’ve charged Sterns with sexual battery and possession of child sexual abuse material, per NBC News.

Authorities uncovered the inappropriate material while investigating Madeline Soto’s disappearance. Detectives on the case say Stephan had “disturbing images” and “criminal and sexual in nature” videos on his phone.

It’s unclear if the content found in Sterns phone features his girlfriend’s 13-year-old daughter. However, forensics determined that the crimes in his phone were committed at their family home in Kissimmee, Florida. Stephan Sterns had reportedly made attempts to delete the content, but police were able to retrieve it.

Sterns’ arrest isn’t in direct connection to Madeline’s disappearance. Nonetheless, given this development, police have now named him a prime suspect while she remains missing.

What Police Know About Madeline Soto’s Disappearance

Stephan Sterns was reportedly the last person to see Madeline Soto at about 8:30 a.m. Monday. The 37-year-old dropped Madeline Soto off a few blocks from her school, Hunters Middle School in Orlando, Florida, Sheriff John Mina revealed. 

But when her mother went to scoop her after school, she was told her daughter didn’t attend on Monday. That night, police began the search for the teen. The blond-haired, blue-eyed child was last wearing a green sweatshirt, black shorts and white Crocs.

So why wasn’t she dropped off at school? Mina said the child was likely “embarrassed” by her stepfather’s vehicle.

Kissimmee and Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) officials interrogated Stephan Sterns on Wednesday night. But Sterns chose to invoke his right to a lawyer before police subsequently arrested him.

“Stephan Sterns had an opportunity tonight to come clean with detectives and help lead them to information about Maddie’s disappearance,” OCSO Sheriff Mina said. “Her loved ones deserve answers and OCSO and the Kissimmee Police will not stop until we find Maddie.”

Police Also Exploring Another Reason For Maddie’s Disappearance

Police have also been investigating another possible alternative: that Madeline ran away. A search of her cell phone, which was recovered from the family home Monday, shows she previously expressed the desire to “live in the woods” after turning 13. Her 13th birthday was on Feb. 22, just days before she disappeared.

Search efforts, including in some woods near her school, have come up empty.

It’s unclear if Madeline’s mother has been in contact with Stephan Sterns since his arrest.

RELATED: Missing N.C. Teen Rescued After Using Hand Gestures She Learned From TikTok To Signal For Help

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