Search for Neptune City Teen's Body Resumes
Search for the body of 19-year-old Sarah Stern was set to resume this morning after authorities announced that two former high school classmates of Stern were charged with her killing.
After nearly two-month long search Liam McAtasney, 19, of Neptune City with first-degree Murder, first-degree Felony Murder, first-degree Robbery, second-degree Desecration of Human Remains, second-degree Conspiracy (to Desecrate Human Remains) and second-degree Hindering Apprehension. Preston Taylor, 19, also of Neptune City, was charged with second-degree Desecration of Human Remains, second-degree Conspiracy (to Desecrate Human Remains) and second-degree Hindering Apprehension.
Detectives determined that McAtasney was responsible for killing Stern and stealing property from her on December 2, 2016. The investigation also revealed that Taylor provided assistance to McAtasney in moving and ultimately disposing of Stern's body to avoid detection.
An investigation was launched after her 1994 silver, four-door Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight, was found abandoned on the shoulder of the southbound lane of the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar.
Neptune Township Police was alerted to the vehicle by a passerby. Stern’s deserted car was operational, and the keys were found in the vehicle. At that time, no persons were in the area, and the vehicle was subsequently towed from the road by the Neptune Township Police Department.
The Neptune Township Police Department contacted the Neptune City Police Department to request a welfare check of the registered owner of the vehicle. Upon arrival at the address of the registered owner, who is a family member of Stern’s, the residence was found unlocked, and no one was home. Further investigation determined Sarah Stern was the missing driver of the vehicle and her family did not know of her whereabouts.
As a result of Stern’s vehicle being found unoccupied and on the bridge, the Belmar Water Rescue Team was called to search Shark River for any evidence of her body.
The Belmar Water Rescue Team was assisted by the United States Coast Guard, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team, the Area Network of Shore Water Emergency Responders Team and the New Jersey State Police. Those assets searched the Shark River with divers, boats, and helicopters, but, to date, attempts to locate Stern have been unsuccessful.
Recent developments in the investigation led detectives to McAtasney and Taylor and culminated in their arrests.
Despite the extensive search, as of Thursday afternoon, Stern's body has not been located. However, the search for her body in the area of the Shark River was expected to resume this morning.
Anyone with information that may assist in this investigation is asked to contact
Detective Brian Weisbrot from the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office at (800) 533-7443, Detective Michael Vollbrecht of the Neptune City Police Department at (732) 775-1615, or Detective John Mahoney from the Belmar Police Department at (732) 681-1700.