Secret Video Shows Man Describe How He Murdered His Childhood Friend, Dumped Her Body

Suspect on trial says he choked teen victim for a half-hour, while her dog watched, to steal her inheritance.

February 11, 2019
Liam McAtasney [Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office]

Liam McAtasney [Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office]

Liam McAtasney [Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office]

By: Mike McPadden

FREEHOLD, NJ — A man on trial for the 2016 murder of his high school classmate described exactly how he did it on a secretly recorded video that was shown in court on Thursday. The footage was filmed by a friend of the suspect who was working with the authorities.

Liam McAtasney, 20, is accused of killing art student Sarah Stern, 19, in 2016 to steal money she inherited when her mother died. McAtasney and Stern have been described as childhood friends, who initially met one another in grade school and grew up together.

On December 3, 2016, Stern went missing. Two months later, McAtasney and his roommate Preston Taylor — who was Sarah Stern’s prom date — were charged with her murder. Taylor has pleaded guilty to his part in the crime and testified against McAtasney as the actual murder culprit.

McAtasney is presently on trial in New Jersey Superior Court for killing Stern. Last week, jurors were shown a secretly recorded video in which he describes murdering Stern and disposing of her body.

On the tape, McAtansey says that he planned out the crime for six months. He calmly details how he attacked Stern in her Neptune City, New Jersey, home, going into how he stuffed a towel down her throat and pinched her nose to choke her. He also says he used a stopwatch app on his phone to time how long it took her to die.

With little visible emotion, McAtasney states, “I picked her up and had her just dangling off the ground. She p---ed herself, said my name. It took me a half-hour to kill her. I choked her out, and she was just laying there, having a seizure. I choked her out, dragged her to the back, put her in the bathroom, and then I had to go to work.”

"It took me a half-hour to kill her. I choked her out, and she was just laying there, having a seizure. I choked her out, dragged her to the back, put her in the bathroom, and then I had to go to work.”

Later, McAtasney says on the video, he put Stern’s body in the passenger seat of her car and drove to a bridge in Belmar. He says he dragged the corpse to the edge of the bridge, but brought the body back to avoid attention from three passing cars. Eventually, Stern says, he tossed Stern over the side and into the water. The victim’s remains have never been located.

In his testimony for the prosecution, Taylor said he drove McAtasney home. He added that they left Stern’s car at the site to make it look like a suicide.

In addition to the horrific confessions, McAtasney says on the tape that his biggest problem came from Stern’s dog, who just “laid there and watched as I killed her.”

McAtasney also gripes about coming away with less cash than he thought he would, as he believed Stern had about $100,000 in a safe on her premises. He says, “She only had 10Gs, and this money, I don’t know if it’s burnt or something, it’s old money, terrible quality. I don’t even think I can put it in the bank.”

The video was secretly filmed by Anthony Curry, a friend of McAtasney who was working with authorities. Curry, an amateur filmmaker, alleges that McAtasney approached him to help with the murder about a month prior to it happening.

The defense claims there is no physical evidence to support the accusations. The trial continues.

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