Once a childhood friend of Sarah Stern, Liam McAtasney was on Tuesday found guilty of strangling the New Jersey 19-year-old to death to steal her inheritance money, then dumping her body in an attempt to stage it as suicide. The Monmouth County court found McAtasney, 21, guilty of murder, robbery, desecration of human remains, conspiracy to desecrate human remains, tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension, reports NJ.com. McAtasney strangled Stern for more than half an hour on Dec. 2, 2016, then put her body in the passenger seat of her own car before chucking her body over a nearby bridge, per People. A secret video recording shows McAtasney explaining to a friend how he had to put the body back in the car as three cars drove past, before dragging it back out again. He faces life behind bars.
Stern's former prom date, Preston Taylor, testified that he helped McAtasney throw her body off the bridge. Taylor then drove McAtasney home, leaving Stern’s car behind as supposed evidence of a suicide. McAtasney said in the video he had been planning the murder and robbery for months, knowing she had inheritance money from her mother's death in a safe deposit box, which she accessed on the day of her murder, as well as in a safe in her room that Taylor and McAtasney buried; Taylor led detectives to it. McAtasney said in the video that he watched Stern die, having set a timer while he strangled her. The trio were once inseparable, according to a former classmate, and Stern’s family and friends couldn’t understand how the two men turned against her. After the robbery, McAtasney quit his job as a waiter and joined the search for Stern’s body across the New Jersey shore. Stern’s body has still never been found; an expert testified it could have drifted seven miles out to sea within 24 hours. (Read more sarah stern stories.)