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April 22, 2019

New Jersey murder suspect recalls strangling childhood friend in secretly-recorded cell phone video

February 8, 2019
Defendant Liam McAtasney looks toward the gallery where his family is seated Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 during his murder trial at the Monmouth County courthouse. (Patti Sapone / AP)

A New Jersey murder suspect was recorded as he confessed to strangling his childhood friend for her inheritance money, claiming the only part of the grisly act that left him bothered was the presence of his victim’s dog.

Liam McAtasney, 21, in the clip played for jurors this week says he “pretty much hung” 19-year-old Sarah Stern in her Neptune home before dumping her body in Shark River in nearby Belmar. She was last seen alive in December 2016 and authorities have still not found her body.

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“I picked her up and had her dangling off the ground. It took me a half hour to kill her,” he continued. “I set a timer.”

At another point, McAtasney said his “biggest problem” throughout the entire ordeal was Stern’s dog, who “laid there and watched as I killed her. Didn’t do anything.”

The secretly-recorded conversation between the alleged killer and his friend, Anthony Curry, unfolded while they sat inside Curry’s parked car on Second Ave. in Bradley beach.

Curry went to authorities a little less than two months after Stern’s disappearance. He testified that McAtasney approached him the previous Thanksgiving with his plan to kill Stern and steal the money left to her by her late mother, according to the Asbury Park Press. He said he did not think much of it until he read about how Stern’s car turned up abandoned on Dec. 3, 2016.

“I don’t feel any different. I don’t think about it,” he tells Curry. “You always think you’re going to try new things and change. It just don’t do anything.”

McAtasney continued: “It’s your life. You might as well make it one. You gonna live some boring-a— life?”

He also appears to bemoan the lack of funds he uncovered during the robbery.

“The worst part of it is I thought I was going to come out with $50,000 to $100,000 in my pocket. She had one safe that she took money out, and she only had $10,000,” he says in the clip. “And this money, I don’t know if it was burnt or something, it’s old f---ing money. Terrible quality, I don’t even know if I can put any of it in the f---ing bank."

The video was recorded just days before police arrested McAtasney and his roommate, Preston Taylor, who once went to the prom with Stern.

Taylor in April 2017 pleaded guilty to charges of robbery, conspiracy, disturbing or desecrating human remains, hindering apprehension and other charges. He testified that he and McAtasney stuffed Stern’s body inside a vehicle and then dumped her over a bridge.

He also admitted to abandoning Stern’s car near the scene in a bid to stage her death as a suicide.

If convicted, McAtasney faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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