Law & Justice

Neptune City Man Pleads Guilty in Death of Sarah Stern, Turns on Friend Indicted in Her Murder

224e22832225a07ecd95_mcatasneytaylor.jpg
Liam McAtasney, left, has been indicted for murder in the death of Sarah Stern, while Preston Taylor pleaded guilty to helping McAtasney dispose of the body and has agreed to testify against him.
224e22832225a07ecd95_mcatasneytaylor.jpg

FREEHOLD, NJ — A Neptune City man was indicted today for murder and on six other charges in the death of Sarah Stern — just hours after his longtime friend pleaded guilty to six charges and agreed to testify against the accused killer.

A Monmouth County grand jury returned the indictment against Liam McAtasney, 19, formally charging him with murder, robbery, felony murder, conspiracy, disturbing or desecrating human remains, hindering apprehension and tampering with physical evidence. He is facing life without the possibility of parole.

Earlier in the day, Preston Taylor, 19, of Neptune City pleaded guilty to robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, hindering apprehension (two counts), tampering with physical evidence and disturbing or desecrating human remains.

Sign Up for E-News

In accepting Taylor’s plea, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard English set a July 21 sentencing date. Taylor faces up to 20 years in prison and would be required to serve 17 years of that term before becoming eligible for parole.

As part of the plea arrangement, Taylor will testify against McAtasney, 19, who detectives determined was responsible for killing Stern, 19, and stealing $10,000 from her on December 2.

The investigation also revealed that Taylor provided assistance to McAtasney in moving and ultimately disposing of Stern’s body in order to avoid detection.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Taylor said he knew McAtasney would rob and kill Stern, a longtime friend of McAtasney and Taylor. As part of that plan, Taylor said he always knew that he would get $3,000 of Stern’s money when she was robbed. The pair split up Stern’s money and buried her safe in Shark River Park, Neptune.

Taylor, who was Stern’s junior prom date several years earlier, said he never called police and never backed out of McAtasney's plans to rob and kill her, according to prosecutors.

Stern was last seen alive on December 2. Her car was found abandoned early on the morning on December 3 atop the Shark River bridge, where a makeshift memorial of flowers for Stern has since stood for months on the southbound side.

It is alleged that the men threw Stern’s body into the Shark River from the Route 35 bridge, which connects Belmar and Neptune City and is just minutes from Stern’s home. Their actions were to make it appear that Stern committed suicide.

Since her body has not been recovered, the bridge has been the site for numerous police searches — the latest once occurring last Friday afternoon. From about 3:50 to 4:11 p.m. on April 22, the four-lane bridge was closed as investigators watched from atop the structure and a boat from New Jersey State Police Marine Bureau was seen in the waters below.

In addition, Taylor’s plea comes one week after he was denied a request to be freed from jail while his case is pending. He and McAtasney have been in jail since their arrests on February 2.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Belmar/Lake Como

Princeton Students Achieve Success: Bog Turtle Designated State Reptile

June 19, 2018

TRENTON, NJ — Legislation inspired by students from Princeton designating the endangered bog turtle as the New Jersey state reptile has been signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“I am so proud of the successful effort of students at Riverside Elementary and their teacher, Mark Eastburn, to name the bog turtle as New Jersey’s official reptile,”  said Sen.

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_dcbcd5bbe820ca09edcc_bacsummertime6

Thu, June 21, 5:00 PM

Belmar Arts Center, Belmar

Summertime, Summertime

Carousel_image_4a1c64948c48a958cf1e_belmarwomansbookgrannyattic

Fri, June 22, 11:00 AM

Taylor Pavilion, Belmar

Belmar Woman's Club Book and Granny's Attic Sale

Carousel_image_7ae118156f1d20aed5df_bbppyanoeplaza4

Fri, June 22, 6:30 PM

Pyanoe Plaza, Belmar

Friday Night Concert Series: Chris Turner and the ...

Carousel_image_e39a6027bb97b7e5457b_jumblesale

Sat, June 23, 10:00 AM

Calvary Baptist Church, Belmar

Calvary Baptist Church's Giant Jumble Sale

Carousel_image_ed119faeffa218b57791_belmar_logo__2_

Sat, June 23, 11:00 AM

Mitzi and Emily's Playground, Belmar

Belmar Mini Town Hall Meeting

Keep 12th Avenue with ‘Normal Height’ Homes

June 21, 2018

To the Editor:

Attend the (Belmar Zoning Board of Adjustment) hearing on (Thursday, June 28) to voice your opposition to having two five-story condos of 24 units each on the first block of 12th Avenue. Join your neighbors in protesting this density of buildings and 62-foot height of housing units that will have a negative impact on the residential quality of the neighborhood.

The Belmar Inn ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...

JCP&L Completes Inspections and Projects Before Summer to Enhance Customer Service Reliability

June 12, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ — Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has completed inspections and projects across its 13-county service area, including Monmouth County, to enhance customer reliability in preparation for the summer season.

The work included upgrading transmission and substation equipment, upgrading circuits and trimming trees along power lines.

Helicopter patrols are ...

Facebook Provides Verification Badges for All TAPinto Facebook Pages

TAPinto and its 75 partner sites have been verified on Facebook with the social media platform's blue badge, which is given to news organizations that meet Facebook's authenticity criteria. 

Facebook gives the blue verification badge to "eligible brands, media organizations and public figures," based on factors that include policy compliance and public ...

Belmar and Lake Como

June 2, 2018

Belmar Police Department reported the following arrests occurred in Belmar and Lake Como from April 1, 2018 to April 28, 2018.

BELMAR

Ryan Miles, 33, of Belmar was charged with contempt on an outstanding warrant after his arrest on April 1 on Route 35 by Police Officer Patrick McGill.

Lisa Perrault, 49, of Long Branch was arrested on 16th Avenue on April 6 by Police Officer Patrick ...