Friend confesses: Sarah Stern murder was planned for 6 months, prosecutor says
FREEHOLD BOROUGH — New details about the alleged murder of missing 19-year-old Sarah Stern came out in court as one of her two friends was formerly charged.
At a detention hearing on Tuesday, Superior Judge David Bauman ordered Preston Taylor, 19, of Neptune City, held without bail until his trial.
Preston is charged with taking Stern's body to the bridge over the Route 35 bridge between Belmar and Neptune City on Dec. 2 and throwing it into the Shark River Inlet.
Prosecutors say Preston confessed that his friend, Liam McAtasney, 19, of Neptune City, killed their friend after plotting it for nearly six months and that he helped McAtasney dispose of her body.
The Asbury Park Press reported that after nearly an hour of arguments from Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Doyle and Taylor's attorney, John Perrone, Bauman said he was concerned Taylor would "interfere" with the investigation. The suspect's father testified that he and his wife cleaned all his clothes from an apartment he moved into with Taylor in November.
Taylor, who took Stern to the prom, has seven days to appeal.
McAtasney is charged with strangling Stern at her home during the course of a robbery on Dec. 2 in which money and other valuables were stolen. He has a detention hearing scheduled for next Tuesday.
NJ.com reported that during Tuesday's hearing, Doyle revealed that Taylor and McAtasney put her body in the front seat of the car that Stern drove after having hidden her body under a bush outside for nearly eight hours. McAtasney then drove the car, which belonged to her grandmother, to the Route 35 bridge with Taylor following in another vehicle. Together they threw the body off the bridge.
Taylor and McAtasney were arrested on Thursday.
Taylor and McAtasney planned to rob and murder Stern for six months.
Doyle said that the pair stole two safety deposit boxes filled with cash from Stern's home.
News 12 reported the boxes were recovered in Sandy Hook and Shark River Park.
State Police, who have been searching the area of the Shark River Inlet near the bridge for Stern's remains since the arrest said that search was suspended on Tuesday due to the weather.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.