New Jersey man found guilty of robbing, murdering friend and throwing her body off a bridge

Sarah Stern, 19, was strangled to death at her home in Neptune City in December 2016. Her remains were never found.
Image: Liam McAtasney
Liam McAtasney during a detention hearing in Superior Court on Feb. 14, 2017, in Freehold, New Jersey.Thomas P. Costello / The Asbury Park Press via AP Pool

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By Minyvonne Burke

A New Jersey man was convicted of robbing and strangling his childhood friend and then throwing her body off a bridge more than two years ago.

Liam McAtasney was found guilty Tuesday of seven charges which included murder, robbery, desecration of human remains, tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension. He faces life in prison.

Prosecutors said McAtasney strangled Sarah Stern, 19, in her Neptune City home in December 2016 and then stole about $8,000 cash, according to NBC New York. McAtasney, 21, believed roughly $100,000 was in the home, prosecutors said.

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Sarah Stern, 19, vanished from her New Jersey home in late 2016.Facebook

After killing Stern, McAtasney and an accomplice, Preston Taylor, put her body in a car, drove to a bridge in Belmar and tossed the body into the water. Prosecutors said McAtasney and Taylor left Stern's car at the bridge to make it appear as if she killed herself.

Stern's remains have never been found.

Speaking outside the courtroom following the verdict, her father, Michael Stern, said he thought "justice was served."

"Sarah's up in heaven. She's an angel," he said. "She didn't have a mean bone in her body."

During the trial, jurors heard a videotaped confession -- secretly recorded by a friend who testified -- in which McAtasney detailed how he killed Stern and then disposed of her body.

Michael Stern said listening to the taped confession in court was "sickening."

McAtasney is expected to be sentenced in May along with Taylor, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to charges which included desecration of human remains and robbery.