Sarah Stern disappeared from Neptune City, New Jersey, on December 2, 2016, and two months later Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor were arrested in connection with her death. Authorities said that McAtasney and Taylor threw Stern’s body over a bridge and split the money McAtasney had killed the young woman for, App reported.
The news came as a shock to the Neptune City community, as Taylor and McAtasney were Stern’s childhood friends and Taylor was even Stern’s date to junior prom. Stern, Taylor and McAtasney were friends and high school classmates, all three graduating in 2015. Taylor and McAtasney then went on to become roommates, according to App.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said in a press release that detectives found that Taylor helped McAtasney move and dispose of Stern’s body after McAtasney killed the 19-year-old woman. On February 2, 2017, Taylor was charged with second-degree desecration of human remains, second-degree conspiracy (to desecrate human remains) and second-degree hindering apprehension, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
Taylor Is at Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, Where He Is Serving His 18-Year Sentence
Taylor, 23, is currently serving his sentence at Garden State Youth Correctional Facility, where he was admitted on June 28, 2019, according to the New Jersey Department of Corrections. The facility, which was opened in 1968 and houses a maximum of 1,257 inmates, is a minimum-security complex for young adults. According to the state’s website, “Inmates participate in a full-day program of work, vocational training or academic education. Academic training ranges from basic skills to a high school degree.”
Taylor’s offenses on his inmate record include committing a robbery causing bodily injury, disturbing or desecrating human remains and hindering apprehension. His mandatory minimum term is for 15 years, 3 months and 17 days and he will be eligible for parole on May 20, 2032, public records show.
Taylor’s attorneys appealed the length of his sentence in 2019, arguing that it was longer than the 15-year sentence sought by prosecutors and citing his cooperation with the investigation. Superior Court Judge Richard English denied the request, stating that the sentence was within the 10- to 20-year range agreed to in the plea bargain, NBC New York reported.
Taylor Took a Plea Bargain & Cooperated With the Authorities in Their Investigation
In 2017, Taylor pleaded guilty as part of a deal to seven counts and agreed to testify against his former roommate McAtasney. In court, prosecutors argued that Taylor told police officers that McAtasney had been planning the murder for six months. He said McAtasney told him Stern had the “type of money somebody would kill for,” ABC News reported.
McAtasney ended up confessing to the murder on a secret tape made by another friend and said Taylor helped him dispose of Stern’s body. Taylor cooperated with detectives immediately after his arrest, App wrote. He described in detail how he helped McAtasney cover up his tracks after the murder, but said he never received the $3,000 promised to him by McAtasney for his assistance.
At his sentencing, Taylor told the court, “There’s so many things about this scenario I wish I could take back and make right. I should have known better and done something to stop this, and I wish more than anything I had. I’m sorry,” App reported.