A key witness in the Liam McAtasney murder trial says the defendant first brought up the idea to commit murder not as a real plan, but as a plot for a potential horror movie.
“I make movies,” Anthony Curry said in a new interview with ABC News. “I’m a filmmaker. He used to tell me ideas all the time about films I should make, and all that stuff. He told me about this idea he had to kill this girl.”
The supposed movie pitch: a horror film. A girl would be robbed, murdered, then tossed off a bridge. The thing is, this wasn’t fiction. It’s how McAtasney killed former schoolmate Sarah Stern in December 2016. Jurors in Freehold Borough, New Jersey found him guilty of her murder and other charges on Tuesday.
Curry worked with cops in an undercover sting operation. He secretly recorded McAtasney confessing in detail to killing Stern, and disposing of her body. The defendant said it took him 30 minutes to strangle her to death, much longer than he expected.
“My biggest problem was the dog,” he told Curry in the video. “And her dog laid there, and watched as I killed her. Didn’t do anything. Her fucking dog. What kind of dog is that?”
McAtasney revealed that he killed Stern over an inheritance she got from her mother. In the footage, he said he expected $50,000 to $100,000. It turned out to be just $10,000. The bills were old and in “terrible quality,” from the 1980s–probably unusable, he said. He shook his head sadly, remarking that he didn’t even get a “quarter” of the cash he originally expected. The defendant admitted that he and another friend, Preston Taylor, tossed Stern’s body off a bridge.
Prosecutors said this was the Belmar Bridge. Stern would’ve landed in the Shark River. Her car was found on the bridge, but her body has yet to be recovered.
She, Taylor, and McAtasney went way back. They went to the same high school. Taylor, who went to junior prom with her, testified against the defendant as another key witness.
Sarah’s father Michael Stern credited Curry for helping police catch the killer.
“Had he not come forward, we probably never would’ve got an answer,” he said. “It was a tough decision for him. He didn’t have to come forward.”
The full interview is set to air on ABC’s 20.20 Friday at 9:00 p.m. ET.
[Screengrab via Asbury Park Press]