Liam McAtasney was arrested and charged with the murder of his childhood friend, Sarah Stern. The 19-year-old Stern disappeared on December 2, 2016, and her car was found “abandoned on the shoulder of the southbound lane of the Route 35 Bridge” in Belmar, Neptune Township, New Jersey, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. Stern’s body has still never been found to date.
Detectives were helped in the investigation by Anthony Curry, a friend of McAtasney, who managed to capture the murder confession on tape. A few days later, McAtasney was arrested and hit with a number of charges, including first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and second-degree desecration of human remains by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office on February 2, 2017, according to a press release.
The motive, according to prosecutors, was to steal money from Stern, who had found a box of money left to her by her late mother, NJ.com reported. Prosecutors said McAtasney and his roommate and friend Preston Taylor threw her body over the route 35 bridge to make it appear like she’d committed suicide. On June 21, 2019, McAtasney was sentenced to life without parole, the prosecutor’s office announced.
McAtasney Was Found Guilty & Sentenced to Life Without Parole in June 2019
McAtasney, 23, is serving his sentence at the New Jersey State Prison, where he was admitted on June 21, 2019, according to public records with the New Jersey Department of Corrections. New Jersey State Prison in Trenton is the oldest prison in the state, opened in 1836, and is the state’s “only completely maximum security institution, housing the most difficult and/or dangerous offenders in the inmate population,” the New Jersey Department of Corrections states on its website.
His listed offenses on his public record include first-degree murder, robbery, disturbing or desecrating human remains and hindering apprehension or prosecution. Due to McAtasney’s sentencing to life in prison without the possibility of parole, there is no release day or parole eligibility date.
After he was found guilty, McAtasney’s attorney told ABC News they would be filing an appeal. “My client and his family are disappointed in the verdict,” Carlos Diaz-Cobo told the outlet. “It was difficult, especially for a 20-year-old boy and his loving mother and family. Their only solace now is that there are several issues for appeal which we intend to file at the appropriate time and believe will reverse this conviction.”
Heavy reached out to McAtasney’s attorney for more information about an appeal but did not hear back in time for publication.
McAtasney Confessed to the Murder on a Secret Recording Made by One of His Friends
During the trial, Curry spoke to the court about how McAtasney had told him about Stern’s inheritance during Thanksgiving in 2016. Curry said he didn’t take him seriously until Stern’s disappearance shortly after, which is when he decided to cooperate with investigators, NJ.com reported.
“He told me he was going to meet up with Sarah, she had found this money,” Curry said while on the stand. “They were going to count it together. He was going to choke her, choke her out. Bring her to the bridge, throw her off and Preston was going to drive the escape vehicle. And they were going to bury the money, and leave the keys in the ignition and make it look like she killed herself.”
In the video of McAtasney’s confession, available in this article, the convicted murderer can be heard complaining that he got a lot less money than he thought he would. In the chilling clip, McAtasney can be heard describing the killing: “I pretty much hung her,” he tells Curry. “I picked her up and had her dangling off the ground. It took me a half-hour to kill her. I set a timer.”