After Murdering Friend For Her Inheritance, New Jersey Man Sentenced To Life Behind Bars

Liam McAtasney was caught on tape lamenting how long it took to choke Sarah Stern to death.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Liam McAtasney

A New Jersey man found guilty earlier this year of murdering his childhood friend has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Liam McAtasney, 21, was found guilty in February of first-degree murder, among other charges, after a jury concluded that he’d killed his former childhood friend 19-year-old Sarah Stern in 2016. Prosecutors claimed that McAtasney, who was also 19 at the time, strangled Stern to death in a premeditated attack in order to make off with thousands of dollars she’d gotten in an inheritance from her mother, who died of cancer in 2013.

McAtasney was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Friday, NJ.com reports. For the desecration of Stern’s remains specifically, the judge handed down an additional consecutive sentence of 10 years, according to the outlet.

After killing her, McAtasney is alleged to have thrown Stern’s body off a bridge in an attempt to stage the scene of a suicide. Her body was never found.

McAtasney is believed to have enlisted his roommate, Preston Taylor, who was also classmates with Stern, to help him dispose of her body, according to the New York Post. Both were arrested two months after Stern’s death, and Taylor quickly turned on McAtasney and began cooperating with prosecutors.

Taylor, who pleaded guilty to six charges related to his role in the crime, is expected to be sentenced next week, NJ.com reports. He faces between 10 and 20 years behind bars, according to ABC News.

In video footage that was secretly recorded by a friend of McAtasney's and then played for the jury, McAtasney can be heard describing Stern’s killing in great detail.

After explaining to former classmate Anthony Curry how he “pretty much hung her,” McAtasney then lamented how long it took to kill Stern, commenting, “I thought I would be able to choke her out and have her out in like a couple of minutes.”

He later claimed that he felt little remorse for the heinous act and that he “[doesn’t] think about [it].”

In an impact statement read to the court on Friday, Stern’s father, Michael Stern, described being haunted by his daughter’s fate, ABC News reports.

“I was devastated and numb from shock the day I learned from detectives Sarah was murdered. I’ve had horrific dreams and nightmares,” he said, according to the outlet. “The horrid act of what happened to her body haunts me everyday. I will never be able to hug Sarah again.”

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