'Injustice with Nancy Grace': Sarah Stern, 19, was murdered by her childhood friend three years ago, but her body has still not been found
Since her body was not found even after air and water searches, the Stern family was praying for Sarah's safe return. They looked for her high and low. But the truth had been gruesome and shocking and had shattered their hopes.
When Michael Stern's sweet and artistic daughter Sarah texted him on December 1, 2016, little did he know that it would be the last time she'd ever be communicating with him. Just 48 hours later, 19-year-old Sarah's car was found abandoned near Route 35 bridge Belmar, the key still in ignition with his daughter nowhere in sight. A not so common route, and with the car still nearby, police thought it was a suicide, however, there was one thing that stood out in the scenario.
Sarah's dog Buddy, who her family had said was the most important to her, had been left behind hungry and locked up in a cage, reported CrimeOnline. Michael was on vacation and out of town when she disappeared and Buddy had been her responsibility. Initially, friends claimed that she wanted to move to Canada and had probably left but he knew that she would never abandon Buddy like that. The two were close. She was his only daughter and after the passing of his wife in 2013, Sarah and her dad had been very close. He knew that Sarah couldn't have killed herself — it just wasn't her. And he was right.
Since her body was not found even after air and water searches, the Stern family was praying for Sarah's safe return. They looked for her high and low. But the truth had been gruesome and shocking and had shattered their hopes. On February 2, the police had charged two of Sarah's childhood friends with her murder. Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor, both 19 had gone to school with Sarah at Neptune High School in New Jersey. In fact, Preston and Sarah had gone to junior prom together.
Taylor took Sarah to the junior prom, according to her dad. All three grew up together, her father said. He even drove them to school sometimes. When he found out that the two had killed her, he couldn't believe it. It almost felt better when he thought that Sarah had been missing. The duo had killed Sarah over money. As it turned out, Sarah had found some money in a family home in Avon and had told them about it. They had assumed it was $100,000. Not wanting to share the money, the two had plotted to off Sarah. Taylor revealed that after McAtasney came home on December 2, 2016, he claimed to have just strangled Stern, after which the duo drove to retrieve her body, took it to the Route 35 bridge from Neptune to Belmar, and threw it into the Shark River. They left her car on the bridge to make it seem like it was a suicide. Little did they know that the money had been just $10,000 and that since they were tattered and old, they were mostly worthless.
During the trial proceedings, a video also surfaced that showed McAntasney talking about how he had strangled Sarah and about the body dump. It was taken by Anthony Curry, a filmmaker who worked with the police during the investigation. The two were friends and one day, while they had been hanging out at McAtasney's home, he had told Curry about this idea he had - about strangling a girl, throwing her off the bridge with a friend. Little did he know it was all real. So when the cops came to know about this, Curry helped them out with a sting operation. McAntasney said on tape that it had taken him 30 minutes to kill her. He had also returned twice to the bridge after throwing her off it.
Sarah had survived her mother's fight with cancer and was starting over with her father. She would have been 22 this year.
Liam McAtasney was sentenced to life in prison without parole while Taylor was given 18 years in prison. Sarah's body still hasn't been found. It is believed that it had been washed away into the Atlantic.
Catch the whole story about Sarah Stern and her father's struggle to gain closure on this week's episode of 'Injustice with Nancy Grace' this Saturday at a special time, 9pmE/8pmC only on Oxygen.