MTV promises to reveal ‘twist’ in investigation of Sarah Stern’s death
MTV is revisiting the disappearance of Sarah Stern — the Neptune High School graduate authorities say was choked to death by a high school friend, and whose body was never found.
Liam McAtasney was sentenced earlier this year to life in prison with no chance of parole for Stern's murder. Preston Taylor, man authorities identified as McAtasney's accomplice, was later sentenced to 18 years for helping cover up the killing.
Prosecutors have said McAtasney, 21, killed the 19-year-old at her Neptune City home, and the pair then threw her body off a Route 35 bridge, where they left her car to make the death appear like a suicide.
Taylor pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against McAtasney, who denies killing Stern despite a chilling confession captured in a secretly recorded video. In the video, McAtasney said he choked Stern to death, keeping track of the minutes as he watched her struggle.
MTV, in promoting its upcoming “True Life Crime” series, set to begin in January on MYC and VH1, asks if the death was a "suicide or sinister scheme" — though authorities have long since made their determination in the case.
The series interviewed members of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office for its production, according to prosecutor's office spokesman Chris Swendeman. But the MCPO hasn't had any role in the promotion of the show.
Swendeman noted first-responders did initially believe Stern's death to be a suicide, based on the location of her abandoned vehicle.
"Our investigation later revealed that the position of her car on the bridge had been staged by the defendants in an effort to conceal the murder of Sarah Stern," he said.
MTV's promotional materials say investigators "suspected suicide, but why would she withdraw thousands of dollars before she vanished?" It also says an ex-lcassmate of Stern's went "undercover to reveal the truth and discovers a twist no one could have expected." It doesn't share the classmate's name.
Authorities say Stern went to a Bradley Beach bank on the day she was killed to withdraw about $7,000. Taylor testified in court Stern had been led to believe she'd could move to Canada with McAtasney using money her deceased mother had saved — but that the plan was a ruse to get her to withdraw the money so he and McAtasney could steal it.
Its unclear what the "twist" MTV promises is.
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