Soria’s father is suspect in girl’s killing | NevadaAppeal.com

Soria’s father is suspect in girl’s killing

by Sheila Gardner

The father of the man 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 and 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. is accused of convincing 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.

Krystal 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.

The girl’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 of 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 possible 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 Krystal 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.

Tuesday’s developments coincided with a memorial service for Krystal Steadman in nearby South Lake Tahoe.

Don Bloom, 80, a friend of the Steadman family who drove from Gustine, Calif., to attend the service, said he was shocked when he learned of the new charges.

”When I heard that, I wanted to vomit,” Bloom said. ”The abuse of children is just incomprehensible to me.”

Soria Jr. was hired seven months ago to work at a satellite branch of the Lake Tahoe Boys & Girls Club. He passed a background check for the $6.50-an-hour job and had no previous criminal record other than a bad check charge.

Soria Sr., who had sought jobs as an investigator and lottery security officer while living in the Sacramento area, had a prior arrest in June 1998 for making an obscene phone call.

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

Nevada Appeal News Service writer Merrie Leininger and Associated Press writer Brendan Riley contributed to this story.