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NJ SARAH STERN: Missing from Neptune, NJ - 2 December 2016 - Age 19 *L. McATASNEY GUILTY*

Discussion in 'Missing 2015 to Present' started by Akoya, Nov 26, 2017.

  1. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Sarah was last seen on 12/2/2016.
  2. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    NamUs MP # 36354
    Sarah Stern
    Monmouth County, New Jersey
    19 year old white female

    Case Report - NamUs MP # 36354

    Case Information
    Status Missing
    First name Sarah
    Middle name Lee
    Last name Stern
    NCMEC number 1283282
    Date last seen December 02, 2016 14:45
    Date entered 12/07/2016
    Age last seen 19 to 19 years old
    Age now Unknown DOB
    Race White
    Ethnicity Other
    Sex Female
    Height (inches) 66.0
    Weight (pounds) 130.0

    City Neptune City
    State New Jersey
    Zip code 07753
    County Monmouth
    Sarah was last seen on 12/2/2016.

    Hair color Brown
    Head hair
    Sarah's hair hangs to the upper / middle of her back.
    Facial hair
    Left eye color Hazel
    Right eye color Hazel
    Eye description
    Sarah's eye color is described by family as being Hazel / Brown.
    No known distinctive body features

    Sarah is known to wear both contact lenses and eyeglasses.
    Sarah is known to carry an Apple iPhone 5C, green in color cellular telephone. The phone was secured in a leather wallet type case that contained her NJ driver's license and other personal belongings.

    Transportation Methods
    Vehicle make Oldsmobile
    Vehicle model Delta 88/ Royale
    Year 1994
    Style Sedan
    Vehicle color Silver and Black
    Tag type
    Tag number WA337S
    Tag state New Jersey
    Expiration year 2017
    Vehicle comments
    Vehicle was located and is being maintained by Law Enforcement.

    Status: Dental information / charting is available and entered

    Status: Sample submitted - Tests complete

    Fingerprint Information
    Status: Fingerprint information is currently not available

    Investigating Agency
    Title Detective
    First name Brian
    Last name Weisbrot
    Phone (732) 431-7160 Ext. 7537
    Website www.mcponj.org
    Case number HM16-00178
    Date reported
    Jurisdiction County
    Agency Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office
    Address 1 132 Jerseyville Avenue
    Address 2
    City Freehold
    State New Jersey
    Zip code 07728
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
    spike likes this.
  3. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member



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  4. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member



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  5. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Childhood friend admits throwing Sarah Stern's body off bridge
    Updated on April 25, 2017 at 9:09 AM

    By MaryAnn Spoto


    NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

    FREEHOLD -- A Neptune City teen pleaded guilty Monday to throwing the body of his childhood friend, Sarah Stern, from the Route 35 bridge in Belmar and agreed to testify against the man accused of strangling her in December.

    Preston Taylor, 19, was charged with helping another high school friend, Liam McAtasney, dump Stern's body early on Dec. 3 and leaving her car on the bridge in an attempt to make her death appear like a suicide.

    In a tension-filled 50-minute court proceeding before Superior Court Judge Richard English, Taylor pleaded guilty to robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, disturbing or desecrating human remains, tampering with physical evidence and two counts of hindering apprehension.
    A somber Taylor, with his hands shackled to his waist, provided the judge and the attorneys with chilling details of the case, saying it was McAtasney's plan to kill Stern after learning in August that she had come into money from her grandmother.

    He told of how they discussed the plan several times over the following months, with Taylor initially trying to dissuade McAtasney from killing their friend but then eventually giving in to the plan.

    Hours after Taylor's plea, a grand jury handed up a seven-count indictment against McAtasney.

    The indictment charges McAtasney with murder, felony murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery, hindering the apprehension of himself, tampering with evidence and disturbing or desecrating human remains.

    The panel also found an aggravating factor that increases the penalty for murder from between 30 years and life in prison to life in prison without parole.

    Unless a person is sentenced to life without parole, a life sentence in New Jersey equates to about 75 years behind bars, with the requirement that the defendant serve nearly 64 years before becoming eligible for parole.


    Timeline of the disappearance and killing of Sarah Stern

    After the 19-year-old's car was found abandoned at a bridge, two of her friends were charged in connection with her death and attempted cover up.

    McAtasney's next court date would be in about two weeks for an arraignment on these charges.

    His attorney, Charles Moriarty, who was not in court on Monday, said McAtasney insists he had nothing to do with Sarah Stern's death and that Taylor is trying to avoid a murder charge by blaming McAtasney.

    "My client still expresses that he had nothing to do whatsoever with this," Moriarty said.

    In return for Taylor's plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the most serious charge against him -- felony murder. He could have faced life without parole if convicted of that charge.

    "He came up with a few ideas to kill her and dispose of the body to get the money," Taylor said of McAtasney.

    Teen admits helping throw Sarah Stern off bridge
    Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Decker asked Taylor a series of questions to show that he knew of McAtasney's plans but didn't try to talk him out of it or go to police.

    The only instruction Taylor gave McAtasney, he acknowledged, was to tell him to avoid killing Stern during daylight hours.

    "Liam McAtasney needed your help on that bridge," Decker said.

    "Yes," Taylor responded.

    "And you provided that help," Decker followed up.

    "Yes," Taylor repeated.

    As it stands now, prosecutors plan to ask for a 20-year prison term. His attorney, John Perrone, will argue at sentencing for a 10-year prison term. Based on New Jersey's criminal laws, Taylor would have to serve 17 years before becoming eligible for parole if he gets the 20-year sentence.

    His sentencing was set for July 21, but that date could be delayed if he has not yet testified in McAtasney's case.

    Taylor's plea comes the same day the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office is expected to present the case to a grand jury for indictment. Perrone said Taylor wanted to admit his role.

    "He's got closure. He made admissions," Perrone said after court. "This was something he had to get off his chest. He had to atone for this."

    He said McAtasney, whom Taylor has known since their freshman year of high school, is a "Manson-like person," who exerted control over Taylor much like serial killer Charles Manson held over his cult followers.


    Case of teens charged in death of Sarah Stern set for grand jury next month

    Prosecutors say they plan to present the case of Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor to a grand jury next month
    spike, KareBear and Kimster like this.
  6. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Taylor said he was to get $3,000 of the $10,000 McAtasney stole from Stern that she kept in a safe in her bedroom.

    After the killing, they broke open the safe, which they later buried empty at Shark River Park in Wall Township, and put the stolen money in another safe they buried at Sandy Hook, Taylor said.

    Taylor said he was at work with his father on Dec. 2 when McAtasney called to tell him he was going to "do it," which Taylor knew meant kill Stern and steal her money. When McAtasney returned to the Neptune City house he shared with Taylor, he told Taylor he had strangled Stern and hid her body in a downstairs bathroom of her home.

    McAtasney instructed Taylor to go back to the house to hide Sarah's body outside and to search for a cellphone McAtasney left behind, Taylor said.

    Following those instructions, Taylor walked to her house, went in the back door and dragged her body to the backyard where he hid her body in bushes and covered it with leaves, he said.

    When McAtasney finished work for the night, the pair went back to Stern's house to retrieve her body, Taylor said.

    He said McAtasney put her body in the front passenger seat of her car and drove it to the Route 35 bridge while Taylor followed in his car. With Taylor on the northbound side and McAtasney on the southbound side, they waited until traffic was clear before removing her body, Taylor said.

    McAtasney couldn't get her body over the railing, so Taylor drove his car behind Stern's and helped his friend toss it over the side, he said.

    "You're certain the body went over the side?" Perrone asked his client.

    "Yes," Taylor said.

    That question posed to dispel claims that Stern committed suicide or ran away.

    Taylor said he and McAtasney later made up stories that Stern had once tried to commit suicide.

    "What was the purpose of leaving the car?" Perrone asked.

    "To make it look like a suicide," Taylor said.

    Taylor was arrested Feb. 2, nearly two months after Stern was reported missing. Her car was found abandoned on the Route 35 bridge with the keys inside, prompting a massive search and weeks of uncertainty about her fate.

    McAtasney, 19, is charged with strangling Stern and robbing her. The two teenagers grew up with Stern in the same Neptune City community. Taylor took Stern to the junior prom.


    Digital community shocked by loss of Sarah Stern

    Sarah Stern was deeply involved in an online community that is not bound by geographic location, but rather its passion for YouTube and digital arts.

    While Taylor detailed his involvement, his parents sat in the back row of the courtroom listening glumly.

    Stern's father, Michael Stern, sat in the front row using a tissue to dab tears from his eyes.

    Taylor has remained in the Monmouth County jail since his arrest.

    A witness told investigators McAtasney admitted to strangling Stern, 19, in her Neptune home on Dec. 2 before stealing money from her, authorities have said. Authorities initially said they stole $7,000 but Taylor on Monday said it was $10,000.

    Stern's body has not been recovered but authorities have occasionally returned to the river to search. They were most recently there on Friday along with Taylor.

    Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said investigators haven't given up searching for Stern's body. He said divers plan to be on the water this week.

    Perrone sought to have his client released from jail under the state's new bail guidelines. But Judge David Bauman ruled to keep Taylor behind bars, and a state appellate last week court upheld that decision.

    He said Taylor was raised by "very down-to-earth and wholesome people," attended Catholic schools and was religious before he met McAtasney.

    "There was a change," he said. "And this change was Liam McAtasney."

    Staff writer Alex Napoliello contributed to this report.

    MaryAnn Spoto may be reached at mspoto@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaryAnnSpoto. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
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  7. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Attorney for man accused of killing Sarah Stern: 'There will be no plea deal'
    Updated on July 10, 2017 at 8:15 PM Posted on July 10, 2017 at 1:18 PM

    By Alex Napoliello


    NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

    FREEHOLD -- The man accused of strangling Sarah Stern during a robbery attempt late last year at her Neptune City home will not take a plea deal, his attorney said on Monday.

    Liam McAtasney, 19, of Neptune City, has pleaded not guilty in the Dec. 2 death of Stern, 19, his childhood friend. He is charged with murder and robbery, and faces between 30 years and life in prison without parole.

    Following a brief court appearance on Monday, McAtasney's attorney, Charles Moriarty, said his client maintains his innocence.

    "There will be no plea," he said with certainty.

    McAtasney's co-defendant, Preston Taylor, 19, of Neptune City, pleaded guilty to helping throw Stern's body from the Route 35 bridge early Dec. 3 in Belmar. In return for the plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the most serious charge against Taylor -- felony murder. He could have faced life without parole if convicted of that charge.

    Taylor also agreed to testify against McAtasney. A trial date has not yet been set for McAtasney.


    Timeline of the disappearance and killing of Sarah Stern

    After the 19-year-old's car was found abandoned at a bridge, two of her friends were charged in connection with her death and attempted cover up.

    Moriarty has filed two motions, delaying the case for 77 days. One of the motions is to suppress a recorded conversation between McAtasney and a cooperating witness, only known by the initials A.C. In that conversation, prosecutors have said, McAtasney admits to strangling Stern and then watching her die for 30 minutes.

    In a previous interview with reporters, Moriarty has called into question the reliability of the video recording between McAtasney and the witness. He has said it sounds more "scripted" than a supposed recollection of the events.

    "The videos are disturbing because both boys are talking about something that didn't happen," Moriarty said of McAtasney's taped conversation with the witness. "It's unusual, people talking like this, like they're talking about going to dinner."

    Moriarty also filed a motion to seek a change of venue for the trial. He told reporters on Monday that he did that because of the abundance of the publicity and comments on the internet.

    The comments "are pretty strong as to how they feel about the case as a whole," he said. "All we're interested is in a jury that will put everything aside and just do on what's presented in court."

    McAtasney appeared in court in a green jumpsuit with his hands shackled. His blond hair was neatly trimmed, and his face was red. "I'm good," he told Moriarty as he shook hands with him before the start of the hearing.

    He nodded at his mother sitting in the corner of the gallery and then briefly glanced at Stern's family, who were seated in the front row. McAtasney mainly stared down at his hands during the court appearance as he sat in the jury box.

    After the hearing, Stern's father, Michael Stern, called the delays in the status of the case "troubling."

    "We'd like to get this behind us rather than delay everything," he said. "It's in limbo, and everyone struggles with it."

    Authorities say McAtasney strangled stern at her home in an attempt to steal $10,000 that came from her grandmother. Taylor told authorities that he was going to get $3,000 to help dispose of Stern's body.

    After McAtasney allegedly killed Stern, Taylor went to her home and removed the body and hid it in the bushes, authorities say. In the early morning hours of Dec. 3, the two then put Stern in her grandmother's Oldsmobile and then McAtasney drove it to the Route 35 bridge while Taylor followed in his own car, according to authorities.

    The two waited for traffic on the bridge to clear before they threw her body off the side, Taylor has said.

    The discovery of Stern's abandoned Oldsmobile touched off two months of bewilderment among family and friends, wondering what could have possibly happened to a teenager who was well-liked in the community and an aspiring artist.

    Friends, family and community members held a search party, in the bitter cold, to find any trace of evidence. Among the volunteers were Taylor and McAtasney. They participated in the event to thwart suspicion from them, authorities have said.

    On Feb. 2, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office announced Taylor and McAtasney were arrested and charged in connection with Stern's death.
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  8. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Judge rejects accused killer's attempt to move Sarah Stern murder trial
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 10:12 AM

    By Alex Napoliello | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

    Liam McAtasney appears in Superior Court in Freehold on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 for a motion hearing. The defense requests to have the trial moved to a different county. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

    FREEHOLD -- The trial for Liam McAtasney, the 20-year-old man accused of strangling Sarah Stern and dumping her body off a bridge in Belmar last year, will be held in a Monmouth County courtroom, a judge ruled Monday morning.

    McAtasney's attorney, Charles Moriarty, filed a motion to change the venue for the trial due to the online coverage and the vast amount of "venomous" public comments on those articles. He suggested Burlington, Mercer and Middlesex counties.


    Sarah Stern

    Moriarty had a chance to make his argument before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Lisa Thornton on Friday. He called the comments about the case, specifically his client, "venomous" and "vitriolic," and referred to them as the "most outrageous things" he's seen in his 40 years as an attorney.

    In the ruling, Thornton said Moriarty "failed to present sufficient evidence that a transfer of venue is necessary to overcome 'realistic likelihood of prejudice.'"

    She said the approximately 50 to 75 comments provided by Moriarty as evidence do not show that a "troubling trial atmosphere is so corruptive by publicity that prejudice may be presumed."

    The pre-trial press coverage was "not inflammatory," presented facts with the proper attribution, did not take a stance against McAtasney and did not create a "circus-like atmosphere" in the courtroom, Thornton said.

    Moriarty can refile the motion if jury selection shows prejudice is "so pervasive" it will prevent McAtasney from having a fair trial, Thornton said.

    Timeline of the disappearance and killing of Sarah Stern

    "Every single one presumes his guilt," Moriarty told Thornton, referring to the comments he submitted as evidence. "The people have expressed how they feel in this case. The rage is here. It's in Monmouth County."

    McAtasney, of Neptune City, is charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the killing of Stern, 19, at her Neptune City home on Dec. 2. His co-defendant, Preston Taylor, was accused of helping McAtasney discard of Stern's body by dumping it over the Route 35 bridge in Belmar to make her disappearance appear to be a suicide, authorities said.


    Both McAtasney and Taylor, 20, grew up with Stern in Neptune City and went to high school with her. Taylor pleaded guilty in April to throwing Stern's body off the bridge and agreed to testify against McAtasney.

    Moriarty also argued that it will be impossible to select an impartial jury because of the connection Monmouth County residents have to the case. He said approximately 50 to 75 of the comments he submitted as evidence came from people residing in Monmouth County, which has a population of about 600,000.

    Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Meghan Doyle arrives at Superior Court in Freehold on Friday for a motion hearing for Liam McAtasney. McAtasney is one of two men charged in connection with the death of Sarah Stern. The defense filed a motion to have the trial moved to a different county. September 15, 2017 (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

    Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Meghan Doyle argued that there was no evidence submitted by Moriarty that suggests people from Burlington, Mercer and Middlesex counties didn't read coverage of the case and comment.

    Thornton's ruling agreed with the opinion expressed by Doyle.

    Doyle said if anything the evidence provided by Moriarty could be used to cross-reference potential jurors and dismiss them if need be. She also noted that there's no evidence proving the commenters would meet the criteria to be a juror on the trial.

    Judge Thornton also raised the question of whether or not geographical lines hold as much weight in the age of the internet.

    "Folks in Teaneck or Cape May all click on NJ.com," she said.

    A motion filed by Moriarty to suppress a taped conversation between McAtasney and a co-operating witness in which McAtasney allegedly admits to killing Stern will be heard before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard English on Oct. 26.

    Read more on the Sarah Stern case:
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  9. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Sarah Stern case: Classmate admits throwing missing N.J. teen's body from bridge

    Sarah Stern

    CBS New York
    Last Updated Apr 25, 2017 5:12 PM EDT

    FREEHOLD, N.J. -- A former classmate of a missing New Jersey woman admitted Monday he helped throw her body into a river and agreed to testify against another friend who’s accused of strangling the woman and stealing thousands of dollars from her.
    Preston Taylor, 19, of Neptune City, pleaded guilty Monday to charges, including robbery, conspiracy, disturbing or desecrating human remains and hindering apprehension. In return, Monmouth County prosecutors agreed to drop a felony murder charge he also faced in the death of Sarah Stern, who was last seen alive Dec. 2.

    Taylor agreed to testify against Liam McAtasney, who is accused of killing Stern and recruiting Taylor to dump her body. The men were longtime friends of Stern’s and Taylor was her junior prom date.

    Prosecutors have said McAtasney killed Stern, 19, in her Neptune City home and robbed her, then called Taylor and asked him to hide her body. McAtasney’s attorney, Charles Moriarty, has maintained his client is innocent. McAtasney remains jailed pending trial.

    Taylor said Monday that they put Stern’s body in her car, then drove it and another vehicle to a bridge where they threw her body into the river. Taylor said they left Stern’s car at the bridge to make her death look like a suicide. Taylor also admitted knowing about McAtasney’s plan to rob and kill Stern, and said he received a share of the robbery’s proceeds.

    McAtasney and Taylor were among nearly 100 people who volunteered to help search for Stern near the river shortly after her car was found. Prosecutors have said the duo participated in the search to deflect suspicion.

    Stern’s remains have not been found.

    Prosecutors said if Taylor does not fully cooperate, they would seek a first-degree murder charge against him. Taylor faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced July 21. His attorney, John Perrone, said he will instead seek a 10-year sentence.

    “He’s got closure. He made admissions,” Perrone told reporters after the hearing. “This was something he had to get off his chest. He had to atone for this.”

    Perrone also compared McAtasney to cult leader and convicted murderer Charles Manson, saying he exerted control over Taylor.

    Liam McAtasney (left) is accused of killing Sarah Stern; Preston Taylor (right) is accused of desecration of a body for allegedly helping to dump Stern’s body

    Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office
    Shortly after Taylor entered his plea, prosecutors announced that a county grand jury had indicted McAtasney on charges of murder, felony murder, conspiracy, desecrating human remains, tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension or prosecution. They said he could face a life sentence with no chance for parole if convicted.

    The indictment alleges that McAtasney killed Stern on Dec. 2 during a robbery that netted $10,000. McAtasney had plotted the killing for six months after learning that she had come into money from her grandmother, prosecutors said.

    “We’re a long way away from trial and at this point, as far as my client’s concerned, all Preston had done is indicate that he (Taylor) was somehow responsible for what happened to the young girl,” Moriarty told the Asbury Park Press. “All I can tell you is my client had nothing to do with it.”

    © 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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  10. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Sarah Stern memorial disappears from bridge as father prepares ‘life celebration’
    By Dan Alexander July 12, 2017 6:05 AM

    NEPTUNE CITY — A long, frustrating year continues for Sarah Stern’s father as a makeshift memorial is mysteriously taken down from the spot where his daughter’s car was found.

    The memorial with posters and flowers appeared in February in the spot where Monmouth County Prosector Christopher Gramiccioni said Sarah Stern’s classmates, Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor, threw the girl’s body off the Route 35 bridgebetween Neptune City and Belmar.

    Stern’s family maintained the memorial for several months. Then, three week ago, Sarah’s father, Michael Stern, noticed it was missing.

    Sarah Stern (Courtesy of Lauren Bahr)
    “It disappeared and no one seems to know (why). Can’t figure it out,” Michael Stern told New Jersey 101.5. “It wasn’t anybody in the family. No friends. We’ve talked to probably 50 or 60 people who have put things up there in the last month or so. It just vanished.”

    Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said the borough did not remove it. NJ Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Schapiro told NJ.com his agency, which maintains the span over the Shark River did not take it down either.

    A new memorial went up on Monday with a framed picture of Stern and a simple bouquet of flowers.

    Stern said no officials from either Belmar nor Neptune City had a problem with the memorial, which was on the sidewalk.

    “It’s a tribute to Sarah because we don’t have her. If we had her we’d be able to have a grave site and a burial and a funeral,” he said. “How do you do it without a body?”

    Stern said he is confident his daughter’s body will be found and he has personally talked to boaters and fisherman at the marinas in Point Pleasant, Belmar and Manasquan.

    “They all know that Sarah is still out there someplace and they’re hoping to find something too…it’s a big ocean,” Stern said.

    It’s been a tough couple of months as the case against McAtasney and Taylor makes its way through the justice system. After prosecutors presented the case during his first appearance in court, Taylor took a plea deal from the state and agreed to testify against McAtasney, who maintains his innocence.

    McAtasney’s lawyer this week sought to delay the start of his client’s case for 77 days. NJ.com reported that McAtasney’s lawyer filed two motions: one to suppress the recorded interview between “A.C” and McAtasney in which he describes how he and Preston planned Stern’s death, and another to change the venue of the hearing.

    Michael Stern called the delay “mind numbing” and is frustrated at the time the case is taking.

    “We want to get past this,” the father said. “We want to get through this and have a verdict. Somebody already pleaded guilty to it and this trial just seems to be…I don’t know what it is. If (McAtasney) had any compassion or his family did they’d tell him to plead guilty and just take his punishment and get on with their lives and put it behind them. This not guilty plea is almost ludicrous. A lot of other people feel this way, too. I think Preston Taylor did the right thing and took his punishment. But he’s not the one who killed Sarah.”

    He said the evidence is overwhelming in the case but understands that the “courts as they are apparently have to go through this. It’s gotta be done properly but as a result everyone suffers, not just our side.”

    Michael Stern said his daughter’s smile and spirit still lives within him and he will host a “life celebration” for her at the Neptune City Community Center from 1 to 8 p.m. followed by a candlelight vigil at 9 p.m.

    “We’re going to as much of her artwork… and a couple thousand photographs from her childhood right up until we lost her,” Stern said, adding that some of her teachers will be there to say a few words about her. “She was a great kid. She was loved by a lot of people.”

    A ******** page has also been created for the Sarah Lee Stern Scholarship Fund for high school and college students to further their careers in arts and media.

    Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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  11. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Guilty! Teen admits throwing Sarah Stern’s body off Route 35 bridge
    By Dan Alexander April 24, 2017 12:28 PM

    FREEHOLD — One Sarah Stern’s former classmates has admitted throwing her lifeless body from a Route 35 bridge — taking a plea deal and agreeing to testify against the friend accused of killing her during a robbery at the Stern home.

    (Tanya Breen/Asbury Park Press-pool)
    Preston Taylor, 19, of Neptune City, accepted the deal on Monday at the Monmouth County Courthouse in Freehold, pleading guilty to seven counts related to Stern’s robbery and death. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a felony murder charge.

    Under questioning by Assistant Prosecutor Chris Decker Monday, Taylor gave a step-by-step account of the events surrounding Stern’s death — saying he helped friend Liam McAtasney throw Stern’s body over the bridge between Neptune City and Belmar on Dec. 2.

    Asked by a prosecutor what happened, with Stern’s father in the courtroom, Taylor said “She was killed by Liam and we threw her body off the Belmar Bridge.”

    Dekcer asked Preston Taylor, “She is no longer with us, correct?” Taylor answered, “Yes.”

    Taylor said he had known in advance of McAtasney’s plans to rob and kill Stern — “He came up with a few ideas to kill her and dispose of the body,” Taylor said.

    Prosecutors have previously said McAtasney admitted in a conversation with a friend identified only as “A.C.” that he strangled Stern to death, lifted her in the air and “then left her on the floor and watched her die for 30 minutes.”

    Update: Liam McAtasney indicted

    Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni has said McAtasney drove an Oldsmobile belonging to Stern’s grandmother to the bridge, with Taylor following in another vehicle. The Oldsmobile was found abandoned on the on the shoulder of the road.

    Taylor said McAtasney had been “unable to lift her body,” so he helped toss her over the bridge. Taylor said that McAtasney told him if that if he was ever questioned about Stern’s disappearance, he should say she’d had a falling out with her father, and had attempted suicide.

    Many searches of the water between Asbury Park and Manasquan Inlet have not turned up Stern’s body.

    Thousands of people missing from NJ — Have you seen then?

    Taylor said the pair agreed to split up $10,000 taken from a safe in the Stern home. He’d been promised $3,000, he said.

    Taylor said they two moved the cash from the Stern safe into another belonging to McAtasney. The safe was buried in Shark River Park in Wall Township, he said. McAtasney’s safe was buried in Sandy hook, Taylor said. Authorities later turned up both.

    Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Doyle previously said McAtasney spent the next two months “calculating every one of his moves to continue to cover up the murder and death of Sarah Stern.”

    “He lied to police. He conducted a search with friends and family of Ms. Stern because he thought that that would alleviate his guilt,” Doyle previously said. “He admitted that he pretended to make their friendship more than it was so that people would not focus on him as a suspect.”

    Taylor faces up to 20 years in state prison and is subject to the No Early Release Act. He pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery, second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, second-degree distributing or desecrating human remains, two counts of third-degree hindering apprehension and fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence.

    His sentencing will be adjourned until later in the year, pending McAtasney’s trial. McAtasney’s case heads to a grand jury today.
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  12. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

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    Akoya Bronze Member

    Route 35 Bridge, Neptune, New Jersey



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    Akoya Bronze Member



    Car was found abandoned on the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar at 2:45AM. This bridge is busy at midnight on a Friday, which is when she would have been driving


    Investigators plan to continue scouring the waters below the Shark River bridge over Route 35 in Belmar in search of Sarah Stern's remains.

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    Neptune City, New Jersey
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    Akoya Bronze Member

    Liam McAtasney confesses to strangling Sarah Stern

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