Father looks for answers after slain daughter's memorial removed in Belmar

Lucy Yang Image
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Father looks for answers after slain daughter's memorial removed in Belmar
Lucy Yang speaks to Sarah Stern's father in Belmar.

BELMAR, New Jersey (WABC) -- A memorial for a murdered teenage girl in New Jersey has been taken down.

Her heartbroken father wants to know who would do this and why.

The roadside memorial was for 19-year-old Sara Stern, a talented student and artist from Neptune, New Jersey.

Last month, someone removed the original memorial off the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar.

"It's very hurtful that someone would desecrate a memorial," said Michael Stern, victim's father. "We don't know who did it."

On Monday, the grieving father installed a new one.

"It wasn't vandalized. It was removed. Everything just disappeared," Stern said.

Last December, the teenager disappeared.

Officials believe she was murdered, then thrown over the bridge in Belmar to look like a suicide.

Her remains were never recovered.

Police eventually arrested two of Sarah's childhood friends, two teenagers, 19-year-olds Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor.

Authorities suspect they were involved in her death in order to steal her inheritance from her grandmother.

"I want her to be remembered as a happy-go-lucky, great talented artist," Stern said.

As the murder case makes its way through court, the last thing Sarah's father needed was for this roadside tribute to disappear.

His wife passed away 4 years ago. Sarah was his only child.

"It's painful, almost like being stabbed in the gut," Stern said.

Her father told Eyewitness News he never had a funeral for Sarah because her body was never found.

This Saturday, there will finally be a memorial service to remember and celebrate the young life of Sarah Stern.

The Sarah Stern Life Celebration/Memorial Service will be held from 1 p.m.-8 p.m. at Neptune Community Center. It's located at 117 3rd Avenue, Neptune City, New Jersey 07753.

Sarah's artwork will be on display.