A teen from New Jersey confessed to strangling a woman, only 19 years old, for a full 30 minutes as he watched her die, said prosecutors in court on Tuesday.
Liam McAtasney said in his statement that murder had been part of the robbery “which he had planned for weeks leading up to Sarah Stern’s death,” stated Asbury Park Press.
Confession and Trial
McAtasney admitted to dumping the young woman’s body in a river with another friend, an accomplice, according to prosecutor Meghan Doyle in a court statement.
McAtasney’s alleged accomplice, Preston Taylor, said that the former had contacted him prior to the alleged murder last December, writes Asbury Park Press. The three individuals lived nearby in Neptune City and were friends. Taylor had even taken Stern to their school’s junior prom.
Prosecutors stated that Taylor admitted to dumping Stern’s body shortly after McAtasney had strangled her.
The alleged killer called Taylor after strangling Stern, and asked for his help to hide the body, say prosecutors.
Taylor allegedly initially hid her body by bushes, with the two later returning and putting her in a front seat in her own car. They later met near a bridge in Belmar and proceeded to throw, said Doyle. Stern’s body was not yet found.
Speculation Surrounding the Confession
Charles Moriarty, McAtasney’s lawyer, said to reported that it might be possible Stern is actually still alive, reported the Asbury Park Press. He stated that there is a possibility the two men created the story regarding what actually transpired.
“Both boys seem to be talking about something that didn’t happen,” Moriarty stated, according to Asbury Park Press. “They’re talking about something that was scripted.”
Investigators believe McAtasney planned Stern’s homicide for the previous six months. John Perrone, Taylor’s lawyer, stated that he attempted to talk to McAtasney to convince him not to kill Stern, but investigators did not find evidence of that notion.
Monmouth County’s Prosecutor’s Office discovered that Taylor had provided McAtasney with help “in moving and ultimately disposing of Stern’s body in order to avoid detection.”
Taylor is now being charged with the crimes of conspiracy, disposal of human remains, and hindering. McAtasney faces first-degree murder, conspiracy, felony murder, and other charges.
Stern last sighting alive and well was on December 2, 2016. Both McAtasney and Taylor had joined around 100 other volunteers who searched for Stern when her car had been Belmar’s bridge last December.