Sheriff Apologizes for Sharing Photo of a Dead Body on Instagram

Photo of a sheriff's police car.

A Florida sheriff issued an apology after a photograph of a dead body was posted to his Instagram account.

The image appeared on the Instagram account of Osceola County Sheriff Marcos López on Saturday, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The image, which has since been deleted, was uploaded along with photos from an event for seniors.

Some suspect the image depicts 13-year-old Madeline Soto, whose body was found the day before the photo was posted on Instagram.

“On March 2, 2024, a post was made on social media about a community event for seniors. In the post, an investigative photo was accidentally included. The photo was immediately removed. We deeply apologize for any confusion or disturbance this may have caused. As with any investigation, the information obtained is confidential and any mistaken disclosures will be immediately rectified,” a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said in a statement to the Sentinel. The outlet added that law enforcement has not commented on whether the image depicted Soto.

With López running for election, the apparent accidental posting has led to outcry from others in the sheriff’s race.

“This is 100% unacceptable and 100% shameful and disrespectful to Madeline, her family and friends. I do have a copy of the post but out of respect and reverence for Miss Madeline, the photograph will not be posted,” Russ Gibson, López’s predecessor and election opponent, said according to the Tampa Bay Times. “The time for Marcos Lopez and certain members of his administration of dishonoring themselves, our agency, and our great County is coming to an end!”

Additionally, another photo posted by a member of the Sheriff’s Office recently caused controversy. On the personal Facebook account of Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Executive Director Nirva Rodríguez, an apparent selfie with the prime suspect in Soto’s death was posted. The image was captioned with the text, “If God’s love has been poured out over your life, don’t allow evil to keep you away from what He has prepared for you,” as translated from Spanish, according to the Sentinel. The image shows Rodríguez in the forefront with suspect Stephan Sterns, who at this time has reportedly not been charged, handcuffed in the background. The photograph has also since been deleted.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.