Sarah Stern, Taylor Preston

New Jersey teen pleads guilty to tossing childhood friend’s body over a bridge

A New Jersey teen pleaded guilty on Monday to dumping the body of his former classmate and childhood friend over a bridge and into a river, after another friend killed her last year, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

People reports that Preston Taylor, 19, pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including tampering with evidence, disturbing or desecrating human remains, and robbery. He’ll also have to testify against co-defendant, Liam McAtasney, the man accused of killing Sarah Stern, 19.

Stern, a college student, was reportedly robbed and killed before she was tossed over the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar. Her body has never been recovered. Prosecutors allege that McAtasney strangled Stern in her own home on December 2.

Taylor reportedly told a witness that he watched Stern “die for about 30 minutes,” while prosecutors claim that McAtasney had planned the murder for months in advance. He recruited Taylor to help him get rid of Stern’s body.

On Monday, Taylor said that after Stern was dead, they placed her body in her own car, and drove it and another vehicle to the bridge. After they threw her over, they reportedly left her car parked by the bridge to make it look like she committed suicide. Preston admitted that he knew beforehand about McAtasney’s plan to rob Stern. He also admitted he received a cut of the “thousands of dollars” that McAtasney stole from Stern.

On December 10, both McAtasney and Preston participated in search efforts to locate Stern. Preston indicated they helped search for her so that they could deflect attention away from themselves.

McAtasney denies any involvement in Stern’s murder or disappearance. His defense lawyer stated that there is no proof that Stern isn’t still alive.

In exchange for his plea deal, prosecutors removed the felony murder charges against Taylor. He faces up to 20 years in prison for his other charges. He is scheduled for sentencing on July 21.

McAtasney faces charges of murder, felony murder, conspiracy, desecrating human remains, tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension or prosecution. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

[Feature Photo: Family Handout/Neptune PD]