Sarah Stern jury hears first police interview with alleged killer

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Jurors in the Sarah Stern murder trial heard the first interview that defendant Liam McAtasney gave to police.

The interview was conducted in December 2016, not long after Stern was reported missing. Police spoke with McAtasney because he was the last person to see Stern before she went missing.

McAtasney is heard telling detectives, “Over the past few weeks she was packing up things in containers and moving them to other people’s houses.”

When asked if he thought that the behavior was strange, McAtasney admitted that he did at first, “but she always wanted to go to Canada.”

McAtasney is heard multiple times in the interview alluding to the fact that Stern may have wanted to run away from home or even commit suicide.

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But prosecutors say that McAtasney strangled Stern in her home in order to get money that she has recently inherited. They say that he and accomplice Preston Taylor drove Stern’s car to the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar and threw her body into the Shark River.

During the interview, McAtasney asks about the possibility of Stern’s body being in the water.

“One thing I kind of wanted to talk to you guys about was, if she did jump off the bridge, what are the odds that she’s not somewhere all the way out in the ocean by now?” he is heard asking.

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When detective ask McAtasney if Stern told him that she was going to jump, he said “No.”

Jurors also heard from three Monmouth County Prosecutor Office investigators who spoke about some of the key evidence in the case – including a safe that was found buried that apparently contained Stern’s money.

Investigator Bryan Muller testified that Taylor brought him to the location where the safe was buried.

“You can see loose dirt and soil and that’s where Mr. Taylor had said, ‘Here’s the tree that had fallen, and the soil. This was the result of us burying it.’ So he knew he had the right spot at this point,” Muller testified.

Taylor has pleaded guilty to his role in the crime and testified for the prosecution.

The trial is expected to continue Thursday.

Stern’s body has never been found.

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