Sarah Stern killed: Friends charged in death of missing Jersey Shore woman
NEPTUNE CITY — A 19-year-old woman who disappeared without a trace two months ago was robbed, strangled and thrown off a bridge, prosecutors said Thursday as they announced charges against two young men.
The Neptune men, both 19, remain Facebook friends with Stern, whose abandoned car was found on a Jersey Shore bridge two months ago. Prosecutors said they have not yet recovered her body.
Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor, both 19, will appear in court on Thursday afternoon, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Charles Webster.
McAtasney was charged with murder, robbery and tampering with evidence with Preston, 19, charged with conspiracy, hindering prosecution and contempt. Taylor has a bail hearing on Tuesday while McAtasney's hearing is a week later on Feb. 14. Both are being held at the Monmouth County jail.
Authorities did not say what the two suspects' relationship was to Stern, but the two remain Facebook friends with her. Taylor's Facebook account has a photo from May 2014 of him with Stern dressed in formal evening wear.
According to the criminal complaint signed Wednesday, McAtasney is accused of strangling Stern during a robbery Dec. 2 at Stern's Neptune City home. McAtasney and Taylor are both accused of moving her body from her home and throwing her over the Route 35 bridge over the Shark River Inlet.
The complaint said the robbery involved stealing money from the house.
Stern went missing on Dec. 3 when her 1994 Oldsmobile was found parked on the Route 35 bridge over the Shark River Inlet in the early morning hours. No one had heard from her since and no sign of her was found during a volunteer search along the shore line in Monmouth County.
News 12 New Jersey reported that McAtasney and Taylor were part of the search for Stern on Dec. 10.
The charges against McAtasney are first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, first-degree robbery, second-degree desecration of human remains, second-degree conspiracy to desecrate human remains and second-degree hindering apprehension.
The charges against Taylor are second-degree desecration of human remains, second-degree conspiracy to desecrate human remains and second-degree hindering apprehension.
David Matthau and Sergio Bicahu contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com
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