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Soria’s father is suspect in girl’s killing

by Sheila Gardner

The father of the teen-ager held for the abduction and murder of a 9-year-old South Lake Tahoe girl was arrested Tuesday for sexual assault stemming from a separate incident but is considered a suspect in the child’s murder.

Sheriff Ron Pierini said Thomas Robert Soria Sr., 39, of Stateline is in Douglas County Jail on $500,000 bail. He is the father of Thomas Robert Soria Jr., 19, who is being held without bail on charges of murder and kidnapping in the death of 9-year-old Krystal Steadman.

Pierini confirmed the older man is also under investigation in connection with the little girl’s murder.

Soria Sr., an unemployed computer technician, is charged with felony sexual assault against a child under the age of 16 stemming from an October 1999 incident.

Pierini confirmed that California and Nevada officials are looking for more sexual assault victims of the two men, who moved to Stateline from Sacramento in January 1999.

Soria Jr. has been charged with sexual assault against a child under the age of 16 arising from the October 1999 incident. Under Nevada law, he is charged as a principal for aiding and abetting his father in the commission of the offense, Pierini said.

In the sexual assault case, Soria Jr. convinced the victim that his father was actually his uncle and that the older man would die unless the 15-year-old girl had sex with him. Pierini said the crime was uncovered during the investigation of Krystal Steadman’s murder.

Steadman was abducted from the parking lot of the Lake Park Apartments on March 19. Witnesses said she was seen playing with Soria Jr., who worked for the Boys and Girls Club chapter at the complex in Stateline.

Steadman’s nude body was found on March 20 on an embankment south of Highway 50 near Carson City.

Pierini said the girl’s clothes were found Monday near Spooner Summit, five miles west from where her body was found.

Both Sorias are scheduled to appear in Tahoe Township Justice Court today.

Pierini said California and Nevada authorities are looking for more victims of the Sorias.

“All I can tell you is that the California authorities are very interested in these two suspects and are working hand-in-hand with us,” Pierini said. “We want to get the word out, especially in the Sacramento area. There may be other victims out there.”

Pierini said autopsy results on Steadman are incomplete as to whether the child was sexually assaulted.

Pierini said Tuesday he is proud of how the investigation has been conducted.

“We have up to 10 investigators working an exhaustive amount of hours, and they have done a superb job. They have been very meticulous and are doing what’s right, taking their time to make sure everything’s done legally. I’m comfortable we will have a successful prosecution when this evidence is presented,” Pierini said.

Anyone with information about the Sorias is asked to call the sheriff’s department at (775) 586-7275.

– Staff writer Merrie Leininger contributed to this story.