BELMAR — A search continued Friday for the body of slain college student Sarah Stern in the Shark River Inlet.

The State Police marine and aviation units were among the agencies that looked for the 19-year-old's remains two days after Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor, both friends of Stern's, were charged in connection with her murder.

Investigators revealed Stern had been murdered and her body thrown into the Shark River Inlet.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said "it is possible due to oceanic currents and tides that her remains might have been swept out of the river into the Atlantic. But we are hoping for a miracle."

(Lauren Bahr)

After being in the water for two months the body likely does not have that much evidentiary value but "we'd like to deliver some level of closure to her family," Gramiccioni said.

The search is expected to last through the weekend and cover an area between Asbury Park and Manasquan, according to Gramiccioni, who said the State Police Marine Unit's knowledge of historical tides and currents will help determine the search parameters.

Stern's father, Michael Stern, told CBS News York that the McAtasney and Taylor were longtime friends of Sarah's. "I just don’t understand how the set of circumstances came about," Stern said as he watched the search on Friday.

Gramiccioni would not comment on a News 12 New Jersey report that McAtasney's  phone was found in the driveway of Stern's home. According to the report, he later reported it as stolen.

"Those types [of details] will come out in hearings as we go forth with this case," Gramiccioni said.

McAtasney  and  Taylor will remain at the Monmouth County jail until detention hearings for Taylor on Feb. 7 and for McAtasney a week after that. Because McAtasney is charged with murder, it is likely a Superior Court judge will keep him locked up until his trial.

Other agencies helping in the search include the Belmar Water Rescue Team, assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team, the Area Network of Shore Water Emergency Responders Team

Gramiccioni asked anyone with information that may assist in the investigation to call  the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office at 800 -533-7443.

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

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