Judge refuses to release man who prosecutors say dumped Jersey Shore woman’s body

    Preston Taylor. (Image: Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office)

    Preston Taylor. (Image: Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office)

    A judge has refused to reconsider whether a former classmate charged in connection to the death of a 19-year-old Jersey Shore woman should be released from jail.

    Superior Court Judge David Bauman on Thursday refused 19-year-old Preston Taylor’s lawyer’s request that he get a new detention hearing, saying there’s no basis to reopen the proceedings. 

    Last week, the judge granted the state’s request to detain Taylor after agreeing that he may try to interfere with the case.

    Taylor’s attorney, John Perrone, says he will appeal the decision.

    Prosecutors say Taylor confessed that he first hid Sarah Stern’s body in the bushes of her home before later helping toss her body off a bridge in Belmar.

    Liam McAtasney, also 19 and of Neptune City, has been accused of robbing and killing Stern and recruiting Taylor to dump her body. The men were both longtime friends of Stern’s and Taylor was her junior prom date.

    Both were arrested two weeks ago. 

    Prosecutors say McAtasney, who will also remain jailed until trial, strangled her with such force that he lifted her off the ground and watched for 30 minutes as she died in her home.

    They say he gave the description of the killing to a friend, who secretly videotaped their meeting.

    Stern’s car was found parked, with the keys in the vehicle, on the Route 35 bridge over the Shark River connecting Neptune and Belmar shortly before 3 a.m. on Dec. 3.

    That sparked a search of the river by the US Coast Guard, New Jersey State Police, and local and county search and rescue units at daybreak that day.

    Volunteers fanned out throughout the area the following week to search for Stern, and authorities offered a $5,000 reward. Police discovered her house unlocked when they checked the same day her vehicle was discovered.

    Investigators recently discovered two safes buried in separate locations. One contained thousands of dollars and is reportedly linked to the ongoing investigation. 

    Police boats and helicopters returned to the Shark River and the nearby ocean to search for Stern’s body after the arrests.  

    Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni has previously said that his office is hopeful that Stern’s body will be found.

    “We’re looking for some kind of miracle,” he said.

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    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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