Father of murdered teen upset by removal of memorial

Posted: Updated:
NEPTUNE CITY -

The father of a 19-year-old Neptune City woman who was allegedly murdered by a childhood friend says that he is upset after the removal of a memorial at the site where his daughter’s body was dumped.

Michael Stern says that someone removed the memorial honoring his daughter Sarah Stern that was placed at the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar. Stern says that friends and family have since replaced the memorial, albeit a much smaller one.

Sarah Stern was killed in December 2016. Authorities say she was killed by her childhood friend Liam McAtasney. McAtasney allegedly robbed the teen of several thousands of dollars and then strangled her.

Preston Taylor, another childhood friend, confessed to helping to dispose of Sarah Stern’s body by allegedly helping McAtasney throw the body off of the bridge and then staging it to look like a suicide. Her body has not been found.

“We still don’t have Sarah, but we do have to put some kind of finality to try to end things,” Stern says.

A memorial service will be held Saturday to honor Sarah Stern. It will be held at the Neptune City Community Center. Stern says all who knew or were touched by Sarah's life are welcome to pay their respects. He says he'll stay until every last person in attendance gets a personal hug and a “thank you.”

“It's a nice way to pay her tribute to what she did and who she was,” Stern says.

A scholarship has been set up by Stern and the Neptune City School District in Sarah Stern’s honor. The Sarah Lee Stern Scholarship for the Arts gave two graduating students $1,000 scholarships in memory of Sarah.

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