Sarah Lee Stern of Neptune City, New Jersey went missing some time on the evening of December 2, which resulted in an exhaustive and extensive search for the missing teenager. Two months after her mysterious disappearance took place, two men have been charged in connection with her murder.
The two males arrested and charged in Sarah’s case are her former high school classmates, according to a report by NJ. Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor, both 19, have been accused of taking part in Sarah’s death, as well as trying to cover up her killing by tossing her body into the Shark River.
A statement released by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office indicates that McAtasney has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, second-degree desecration of a body, second-degree conspiracy, and second-degree hindering, according to Asbury Park Press. Also, Taylor faces charges that include second-degree desecration of a body, second-degree conspiracy, and second-degree hindering.
Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni says McAtasney showed up at Sarah’s home with the intent to rob her and then strangled her, according to NJ. After murdering the teenager, McAtasney the reportedly called Taylor and requested he help with the disposal of Sara’s body and any evidence about the killing, the prosecutor notes.
Taylor apparently complied with McAtasney’s request, the prosecutor alleges, and the two teenage males drove Sarah’s car to the bridge that sits over the Shark River in Belmar. NJ reports that Gramiccioni states the young men then threw Sarah’s body over the side of the bridge. Sarah’s body has yet to be recovered the report notes.
Sarah, 19, initially went missing, according to reports, after leaving her family home on Friday, December 2 at around 11:45 p.m. She was driving her grandmother’s 1994 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight Royal, reports NJ, the vehicle that was found on the Belmar bridge. The car was found at around 2:45 a.m. Saturday morning with the keys still inside.
Not long after, an exhaustive search of the Shark River was conducted to determine if Sarah had jumped from the bridge or had fallen into the water below. NJ reports the U.S. Coast Guard, the Belmar Water Rescue Team, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Dive Team, the Area Network of Shore Water Emergency Responders, and State Police all scoured the waterway but did not find Sarah.
Sarah’s father, Michael Stern, has described his daughter as being an “aspiring artist” who attended Brookdale Community College in Lincroft for a year, studying television production and art, NJ reports. He also indicated she knew a large number of people, which her social media accounts highlight with photos of many of her friends.
Michael continued to hold out hope that he would find his daughter safe, as the search continued. Around mid-December, he stated, “We are going to keep searching and we are not giving up till Sarah is home. Our hearts are heavy with sadness because Sarah is still missing and everyday she is not found it gets harder to face each day without her,” according to New Jersey 101.5. Michael added regarding his daughter, “Everyone loves Sarah.”
NJ reports that by the end of December, Micheal expressed how hard the holidays were without his daughter. He said, “I feel lousy and heartbroken… They haven’t come up with too many new leads. There are so many unanswered questions. We’re at a loss, really.”
Despite arrests being made in the case, police are still urging anyone with information that may help in the investigation with regard to Sarah Stern’s case to contact Detective Brian Weisbrot of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 800-533-7443 or 732-431-7160, Neptune City Detective Michael Vollbrecht at 732-775-1615, or Belmar Police Detective John Mahoney at 732-681-1700.
[Featured Image by Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office/Facebook]