Friday, March 29, 2019

The Murder of Samantha Folsom

26 year-old Samantha Folsom

Samantha Folsom was found murdered inside her Lewiston, Maine apartment on November 9th, 2011. Her murder has baffled investigators, and it remains unsolved to this day.

Prior to her death, Samantha was making plans to turn her life around. After struggling with addiction for years, she wanted to finally get completely clean. Samantha had also recently broken up with her husband Jesse Folsom. The couple had gotten hooked on drugs years earlier, after they moved from Maine to California in 2005. Jesse was active duty in the Army at that time, and he had been stationed at Fort Irwin in Barstow. Samantha reportedly got hooked on heroin very quickly, but she began to turn things around after she learned she was pregnant with her son. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy in June 2008. According to Jesse, they were a happy family at that point in time.

Samantha with her ex-husband Jesse and their son

Things began to fall apart in 2009, when Jesse told Samantha that he wanted to move back to Maine. Samantha wanted to stay in California, but she eventually caved and ended up moving Jesse, her son, and herself back into her parents home in Lewiston. Samantha began to abuse drugs again and her marriage with Jesse began to sour. According to Samantha’s parents, Jesse was abusive towards Samantha and had been for years. The two eventually split up, and Samantha’s parents gained custody of their son.

Samantha then moved into her own apartment near her parents house. She began dating another man. Jesse was furious when he found out about Samantha’s new relationship. He eventually was arrested for assaulting Samantha’s new boyfriend during a confrontation. Much like Jesse, though, Samantha’s new boyfriend was unfortunately abusive as well. In fact, shortly before her death, Samantha’s new boyfriend was arrested for assaulting her. After the assault, Samantha decided she wanted to turn her life around—her plans were get clean, and eventually gain back custody of her son. 

On November 5th, 2011, Samantha asked her parents to drive her to a rehab facility the following morning. Despite this, her parents were unable to get ahold of her the next day. After days passed without hearing from their daughter, Samantha’s parents went to her apartment building and asked the manager if he would allow them to open Samantha’s apartment for a welfare check. A maintenance worker eventually let her parents into the apartment, and at first glance, it did not appear that Samantha was there. Samantha’s mother then began to look around for Samantha’s cat. Her mother went to the closet where she knew Samantha’s cat carrier was kept. When she opened the closet, she found a horrific sight: the body of her daughter. At that point it was clear that Samantha was dead—she had been killed and stuffed into the closet.

Samantha's apartment building in Lewiston, Maine (Portland Herald)

It took over a year for Samantha’s death to be classified as a homicide. It was initially classified as undetermined, but police later reclassified her death as a murder. Her exact cause of death has never been revealed. When the investigation into Samantha’s murder finally began, it seemed detectives had quite a few obvious suspects: Samantha’s new abusive boyfriend and her abusive ex-husband, Jesse. The only issue was, both men were in jail at the time Samantha was killed. Jesse was in jail for assaulting Samantha’s new boyfriend, and her new boyfriend was in jail for assaulting her. After both men were cleared, detectives stated that they had very few leads to chase. Samantha’s case eventually grew cold, and police have not released any information about a potential suspect to the public. 

However, a reporter for Maine’s Portland Herald was able to dig up some new details about the case when he interviewed the residents at Samantha’s apartment. Samantha’s next-door neighbor told the reporter that she was interviewed by the police, and she was shown a picture of a potential person-of-interest. The reporter stated that “detectives came to her door and they showed her a picture of this person, and they asked her if she recognized this person”. Said person is described as a “man with a dark complexion who was wearing a shirt and tie, and some sort of badge.” It is unclear if this person is still being pursued by the police, and he has never been publicly identified. 

Years have passed, and no arrests have been made for Samantha’s murder. Maine State Police reportedly told journalists that they are still “closing in” on the investigation. However, they are also still asking for people to come forward with tips. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact Maine State Police at (207) 657-3030.


Monday, March 25, 2019

The Disappearance of Brandon Bankhead


Brandon Bankhead (19) vanished after attending his great-grandmother’s funeral on May 28th, 2016. The funeral was held at Life Center International Church in St. Louis, Missouri. Once the service ended, Brandon was seen getting into a vehicle with some friends. He has never been seen or heard from again. 

Brandon’s family members did not recognize the friends he left the service with, and they believe that foul play is responsible for his disappearance. A few weeks after he vanished, Brandon’s mother received a threatening phone call stating that her son was being held captive in a vacant home in Walnut Park, and he was going to be killed. According to Brandon’s grandmother, the caller said, “We got your son, we got him in a closet tied up, and we getting ready to kill him.” The call has never been traced and it is unclear if the family and/or investigators believe the call was authentic.

There are unfortunately very few details available about the investigation into Brandon’s disappearance. However, the case is still open and Brandon’s family is desperately hoping to find closure. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact St. Louis Police Department at (314) 231-1212.

Today in True Crime: The Murder of Tory Minnick

Left: Erin Everett (25), who murdered her fiance Tory Minnick (21) in March 2010

Erin Everett and Tory Minnick lived in the conservative town of Jerome, Pennsylvania and had a whirlwind romance that turned fatal on March 25th, 2011. Shortly before they met, Erin had come out to her family members, who were initially quite reluctant to accept her sexuality. Tory, on the other hand, had recently broken off her engagement to a man named Kody Donaldson (24). The two reportedly fell fast for each other, and Erin ended up proposing to Tory early into their relationship. Tory accepted, and Erin’s parents eventually agreed to allow Tory to move into their family’s home. The girls appeared to be a happy couple to their family and friends, however behind closed doors things were beginning to fall apart.

The couple began to fight more often after Tory moved into the Everett family home. Erin’s mother had suspicions that Tory was physically abusive towards Erin. Despite this, Erin told others that Tory was the love of her life and she wanted to make their relationship work. In the following months, their fights escalated as Tory began to spend more and more weekends away from Erin—opting to visit her hometown in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania instead. Erin eventually learned that Tory had rekindled her relationship with her ex-fiancĂ© Kody, and she had been spending her weekends in Meyersdale with him.

This realization caused Erin to snap. While Tory slept on the evening of March 25th, 2011, Erin used her father’s gun to shoot Tory twice in the head. Then, she hit Tory twice in the head with a hammer. After a failed attempt to remove Tory’s body from her family’s home, Erin called her mother and told her that an intruder had broken into their home and attacked Tory. The police were called as well, and when they arrived, they found Tory’s body amongst the bloody crime scene inside the home.

Erin told police the same story she told her mother—that a masked intruder entered their home and attacked/killed Tory. She specifically told police that the intruder told her he was there for Tory and not her. It is believed that Erin said this in attempt to point the finger at Tory’s ex, Kody Donaldson. However, police were quickly able to get in touch with him, and he had an airtight alibi that proves he was not at the home when the murder occurred. Police then brought Erin back to the station for questioning, where she eventually admitted to killing Tory after finding out she had been unfaithful.

Despite confessing to the crime, Erin ended up pleading not guilty to first degree murder. Before trial, her defense attorney argued that Tory’s murder was triggered by Battered Women’s Syndrome after she had repeatedly abused Erin. Lead defense attorney Bryan Peck explained, “I believe that it was premeditated, but I believe that that premeditation was a result of something outside of Erin Everett’s control.” The judge overseeing the case stated that there was not enough evidence that physical abuse occurred in their relationship for the attorney’s claim to be admitted in court. Due to this, the court ultimately convicted Erin Everett of first degree murder in November 2014. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Today in True Crime: The Disappearance of Lori Dee Wilson

30 year-old Lori Dee Wilson

Lori Dee Wilson has been missing since March 24th, 2016. At the time of her disappearance, Lori Dee was staying at a residential treatment center for drug addiction. The 30 year-old woman had been struggling with addiction for years. On top of that, she had recently learned that she needed throat dilation surgery. Lori Dee decided to have the surgery in August 2016, but she was informed by her doctors that she needed to be drug-free in order to do the procedure. Her family then decided to send Lori Dee to Rainforest Recovery Center in Juneau, Alaska, located hours away from her home in Dillingham. 

Map demonstrating distance between Dillingham and Juneau

Lori Dee’s first weeks at the treatment center appeared to be going well. According to her sister, Lori Dee was making progress. In fact, the two spoke on the phone the day Lori Dee was last seen, and her sister said that Lori Dee seemed very optimistic. However, just hours later, Lori Dee snuck out of the treatment center through a ground floor window. She has never been seen or heard from again.

The following day, Lori Dee’s family members were informed that she had left the facility. They immediately flew out to Juneau to search for her. Lori Dee’s father, Kenny Wilson, filed a missing persons report with the Juneau Police Department, but the police were unable to find evidence that a crime was committed. Due to this, the police’s involvement in the search for Lori Dee was unfortunately minimal. Lori Dee’s father Kenny has since taken matters into his own hands. He began spending weeks at a time in Juneau to search for his daughter. He spoke to people at homeless shelters and monitored the public transit system, including airline flights and ferry rides. Kenny even hired a local resident to be on the lookout when he was unable to be in Juneau. So far, no trace of Lori Dee has been found. 

Although Lori Dee voluntarily left the treatment center, her family is incredibly worried about her safety. Her family fears that she left the center to continue abusing drugs. Lori Dee never showed up for her scheduled surgery in August 2016, which she needed in order prevent scar tissue swelling in her esophagus from constricting her throat. When Lori Dee was younger, she accidentally drank from a glass of detergent that she mistook for juice. This caused burning in her throat at left her with lifelong injuries to her esophagus. Her family is concerned that Lori Dee is now unable to eat or even breathe. 

Lori Dee’s family believes she might still be in Juneau. She is described as 5’4”, 130 lbs, with brown curly hair and brown eyes. Her family is asking anyone with information on her whereabouts to contact Kenny Wilson at 907-843-1177.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Today in True Crime: The Disappearance (and presumed murder) of Sierra Lamar

The last image of Sierra Lamar, taken on the morning of March 16th, 2012

On the morning of March 16th, 2012, 15 year old Sierra snapped this selfie on her computer’s webcam before leaving her house in Morgan Hill, CA, to head to her bus stop. Unfortunately, Sierra never made it to the bus stop or to school that day, and nobody has seen or heard from her since she sent her final text to a friend at 7:11am that morning. Days later, her cell phone was found in a nearby field. Her school bag, with the clothes she had worn that morning folded neatly inside, were found behind a shed in separate nearby location.

In May 2012, two months after Sierra disappeared, authorities arrested Antolin Garcia-Torres for Sierra’s kidnap and murder. Garcia-Torres was 21 years old at the time. Authorities were able to link him to Sierra after finding her fingerprints inside Garcia-Torres’ car, and her hair on a rope found in Garcia-Torres’ trunk.

Antolin Garcia-Torres (2012)

After years of delays, Garcia-Torres finally went to trial in February 2017. Despite Sierra’s body never being found, the jury still found him guilty on all counts of kidnapping and murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Garcia-Torres still maintains his innocence and has not revealed the location of Sierra’s body.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Disappearance of Nachida Chandara

Nachida Chandara has been missing since March 14th, 2007. She was only 15 years old at the time she was reported missing, and there are very few details about available about the circumstances around her disappearance. What is known is that Nachida was last seen at her family’s home in Phoenix, Arizona the day disappeared. She left her home sometime after 10pm, and never returned again. After she was reported missing, authorities classified Nachida as a runaway.

Two months later, in May 2007, investigators were somehow able to verify that Nachida was in Detroit, Michigan. She was believed to be using the name Lisa Tran as an alias. It is unclear how investigators received this information, and there have not been any other known sightings of her since May 2007. However, various sources state that Nachida may be in Seattle, Washington, or Miami, Florida. Those two places are far from each other and it is unclear how Nachida might be linked to them.

Over a decade has passed since Nachida’s disappearance and she still remains missing today. Additionally, she still remains classified as a runaway. Still, investigators are hoping to solve this case and bring closure to those looking for her. If you have any information that could lead help, please contact 1-800-222-TIPS.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Today in True Crime: The Murder of Monica Anderson

 Monica Anderson (left) and Lan Anh Le (right)

Monica Anderson (26) was brutally murdered by her roommate/lover Lan Anh Le (20) inside the apartment they shared on March 13th, 2010. The two young women met through mutual friends and had been living together in Sacramento, California for about six months prior to Monica’s death. The night of the murder, Monica and Lan spent the evening drinking alcohol and snorting lines of cocaine. Around 2:30am, an argument over a cellphone charger broke out inside the girls’ bedroom. Monica attempted to flee the apartment, but Lan chased her with a butcher knife and attacked her. Lan ultimately stabbed Monica 91 times. She then attempted to turn the knife on herself, but a friend was able to intervene until the police arrived.

Lan was ultimately charged with first degree murder. At the trial, prosecutors stated that Monica’s murder was a crime composed of “pettiness and ridiculousness,” and that Monica was “brutally murdered without any just reason at all.” A video was played to jurors of Lan admitting to the crime during police interrogation, during which she admits that she initially was angry with Monica for not handing over her cell phone charger. Lan is also heard saying, “[Monica] started running away from me, and that’s when it happened. I was just really pissed.”

Despite admitting to the crime, Lan plead not guilty to first degree murder. Her defense team argued that the crime occurred in the heat of the moment, and it was fueled by drugs. Lan had apparently been hooked on drugs since she was a teenager—after she suffered through a rough childhood. Lan’s defense attorneys explained that Lan was one of 10 children raised by Vietnamese refugees in Sacramento. Their living conditions were allegedly cramped and dangerous, and the children were trained to not speak to social workers who visited their home. Lan ended up hanging out with a “bad crowd” as she got older, and she got hooked on drugs by time she was 16. Lan eventually entered a group home for young women in an effort to put her life back together, but she unfortunately aged out of the system shortly after entering. Lan met Monica shortly after turning 18. Defense attorneys said that Lan looked up to Monica and they had a very passionate, albeit troubled, relationship. Lan’s lead attorney stated, “[Lan] loved Monica Anderson so much, but on March 13, 2010, when Lan was just 20 years old, she did something while under the influence of alcohol and cocaine and emotion that she is never ever going to be able to take back.”

While prosecutors did not dispute that Lan had suffered through a troubled past, they argued that the murder was unnecessarily vicious and it was not the first known incident of violence between Lan and Monica. Months before Monica’s murder, she allegedly told her parents that Lan had blindly attacked her, which left her with multiple bruises and a black eye. Prosecutors argued that, on the night of the murder, Lan made the decision to chase Monica with a knife and stab her violently nearly 100 times. The jury ultimately agreed with the prosecution and found Lan guilty for first degree murder. She was sentenced to 25 years to life.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Disappearance of Ebony Giddens

27 year-old Ebony Giddens

Ebony Giddens has been missing since March 11th, 2018. She was last seen that day at her apartment in Columbus, Georgia. The following morning, Ebony’s brother arrived at her apartment to take Ebony’s children to school. When he arrived, he noticed the children were inside but Ebony was nowhere to be found. Her purse, wallet, and keys were inside the apartment. Ebony was reported missing shortly after it was discovered that none of her other family members or friends knew of her whereabouts.

The investigation into Ebony’s disappearance was hindered early on by Facebook rumors. On March 23rd, one of Ebony’s cousins posted “I just want you to come home.” A 26 year-old man named Travis Gardner began replying to said post, claiming that he had knowledge on Ebony’s disappearance. He posted things such as “I know where she is. It will cost u a fee. 1 million dollars or u will never see her again. If you contact police u will receive a piece of her body one by one.” Many people took Gardner’s threats seriously, but others felt he was being dishonest. He was warned to stop posting about Ebony, but he persisted. Finally, police arrested Gardner and charged him with making terroristic threats and attempted extortion. Other than these charges, police were unable to link Gardner to Ebony’s disappearance.

In May 2018, police identified Ebony’s ex-boyfriend Malcolm Jackson as a person of interest in Ebony’s case. Shortly before her disappearance, Jackson been ordered to stay away from Ebony after an alleged incident of violence that occurred at her apartment. According Ebony’s cousin, Jackson “jumped on her. He busted her lip and he pulled a gun on her and that was the last straw. She had him arrested”.  Despite this order of protection, a witness placed Jackson at Ebony’s apartment complex the night she vanished. He has still not been charged with anything related to Ebony’s disappearance, and Ebony remains missing today.

There is a $10000 reward in place for anybody with information that could lead to Ebony’s whereabouts. If you have any information, please contact the Columbus Police Department at (706) 225-3205.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Disappearance of Ruthie Fawn Kindness

The last known image of Ruthie Kindness, uploaded to her Facebook page in January 2011

Ruthie Fawn Kindness vanished at the age of 20 on February 7th, 2011. The young woman had been released from police custody in Federal Way, Washington on an outstanding warrant. just hours before her disappearance. Ruthie later called her mother from a payphone at the Paradise Bowling Alley in Parkland, Washington. This is the last time her family has heard from her. Ruthie has never been seen or heard from again. 

Ruthie has been classified as an endangered missing person. Despite this, investigators have not released many details about her disappearance. A Facebook page titled ‘Where’s Ruthie’ states that Ruthie’s loved ones believe she was a victim of foul play. Two years after her disappearance, a post was shared to the page that stated “we have some tips, info, names and there will be answers and justice for Ruthie one day for sure. There are people she hung out with out in the Parkland area we believe they're hiding a sick secret, we believe they did something to her and are walking around scot-free and there are others who know about it yet don't say anything or just ignore us or lie.” It is clear that Ruthie’s loved ones have certain persons of interest in mind, however said persons have not been publicly identified. 

There is a $7800 reward in place for anyone with information that could lead to Ruthie’s whereabouts. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the Auburn Police Department at 253-931-3080

The Disappearance of Delecia Waddy

Delecia Waddy has been missing since March 9th, 2017. Then then-24-year-old was last seen at a campground at Kings Dominion, an amusement park located in Doswell, Virginia. While there, Delecia tried to bargain for a space at the campground but was turned down. She subsequently left the park around 11:30am. The next morning, Delecia’s car was found abandoned near the campground. It had a tank full of gas and appeared to be in working order. Her cellular phone, purse, wallet, driver’s license and some other belongings were found scattered behind Meadow Event Park, near her abandoned vehicle.

Shortly after these findings, a search was launched for Delecia. That search was very short lived; it was called off after witnesses said they saw her walking in a field off Route 30 in Caroline County, Virginia. Her scent was also tracked by dogs at a home in that area. A few days later, on March 12th, an acquaintance who did not know Delecia was missing at the time spotted her in Richmond, Virginia.

After these sightings, police said that they did not believe Delecia was in danger—despite the fact that they never actually located her. She also has not contacted her loved ones or accessed her social media accounts since her disappearance. If Delecia is, in fact, voluntarily missing, it is unclear why she would abandon her vehicle, which was in good condition. It is also unclear how her personal belongings became scattered in the nearby park.

Even though police believe that the sightings of Delecia shortly after her disappearance are credible, they have yet to elaborate on how they believe Delecia arrived in Richmond—which is located over 25 miles away from Doswell—without her vehicle. It is very unlikely that she got there on foot, so if she actually was in Richmond on March 12th, somebody had to have helped her get there. This leads to a whole new set of questions: Did somebody pick her up? If so, who? How was she able to contact someone for a ride without her phone? Did she hitchhike? Was she somehow able to take public transportation without her wallet?

Now that Delecia has been missing for a few years, fears for her safety have increased. Her case is still open, and her family is desperately hoping for answers. If you have any information about Delecia’s whereabouts, please contact Morse Investigations at (888) 756-6825.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Today in True Crime: The Disappearance of Marizela Perez

Marizela Perez, age 18 
18 year old Marizela Perez was a freshman at the University of Washington in Seattle when she vanished on March 5th, 2011. On that day, Marizela left her home in the Rainier Beach area to head to the university’s campus, but she never arrived there, and never returned home as planned. Her last known location was a Safeway grocery store near the university, where she was seen between 2 and 3 pm. While shopping, Marizela purchased orange juice, trash bags, Tylenol and over-the-counter sleeping medicine. She left the store with those items and then seemingly vanished; she has not been seen or heard from since. The last activity on her phone was a text message that was sent to her around 2:45pm. After that, Marizela’s phone was turned off and has still never been recovered.

Marizela lived with her aunt and uncle at the time of her disappearance. She is originally from New Jersey, but had recently moved to Seattle for college. Marizela’s family members said that she was depressed in the months before her disappearance, since her grandfather had recently passed away and she had also recently ended a relationship. A private investigator hired by the family believes that Marizela committed suicide. However, her family said that she seemed happy in the days leading up to her disappearance and they do not believe she was suicidal. Over the years since her disappearance, Marizela’s family has expressed frustration towards the law enforcement working on her case. Due to the fact that there is no evidence that a crime was committed, police are unable to obtain a warrant to get access to Marizela’s Internet and cell phone records. Therefore, it is currently unknown whether or not Marizela was in contact via Internet or cell phone with somebody who might have information on her disappearance. It is also currently unknown if any of her Internet searches or activities alluded to suicide. Without this information, investigators do not have very many leads to follow in her case.

Marizela remains missing today. If you have any information about Marizela’s whereabouts, please contact the Seattle police department here.

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Disappearance of Bethany Markowski

11 year-old Bethany Markowski, pictured with her mother Jonnie Jo Carter

Bethany Markowski was only 11 years old when she went missing on March 4th, 2001. Bethany’s parents had separated two months before her disappearance, and Bethany and her mother Jonnie Jo Carter had recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Bethany’s father, Larry Markowski, lived in Gleason. In the days before she vanished, Bethany spent several days with her father at his new home. She disappeared on the last day of their visit.

That day, Larry and Bethany planned to meet Bethany’s mother at the Waverly, Tennessee exit off of Interstate 40 so Bethany could return to Nashville with her. On their way there, Larry stopped his car at the Old Hickory Mall in Jackson, Tennessee around 3:30pm. According to Larry, he then took a nap in his car while Bethany went inside the mall to shop. She never returned and has never been seen or heard from again. Larry reportedly alerted authorities that his daughter was missing by 5:15pm.

Investigators immediately looked at surveillance footage from Old Hickory Mall for clues. Bethany was not captured on any of the mall’s cameras and investigators ultimately could not find any evidence that she actually entered the building at all. This made Larry’s story seem quite suspicious, and investigators have repeatedly questioned his version of events. Larry denies being involved in Bethany’s disappearance and detectives are ultimately unable to rule out a stranger abduction. Still, investigators have stated that they have not completely ruled out Larry’s involvement either—they simply do not have enough evidence to charge him with anything at this time.

Bethany’s mother Jonnie strongly suspects that Larry has the answers needed to locate Bethany. Jonnie told reporters that Larry was abusive towards both her and Bethany, and she had finally decided to leave him for good in January 2001. Larry did not take the break-up well and lashed out quite a few times after this. At one point, Larry showed up at Bethany’s new school in Nashville, marched into her classroom and began to drag her out of class. He shoved Bethany’s teacher out of the way and headed towards the hallway. Other teachers who heard Bethany’s cries were able to intervene and get Bethany away from him. Even after this incident, Larry was still granted unsupervised visitation with Bethany.

Early into the search for Bethany, police received a tip that the young girl was seen with an unkempt-looking Caucasian woman who appeared to be in her early 40s. A month later, a woman matching that description apparently tried to enroll Bethany in a school at southeastern Tennessee. A short time after that, a witness spotted Bethany and the woman boarding a Greyhound bus together. Authorities have never been able to track said woman down, but they were able to create a composite sketch of her. Jonnie looked at the sketch, and stated that the woman looks like “a family member, a distant sister-in-law that I wasn’t real close with and I only had met a few times.” This woman’s identity has not been revealed and it is unclear if Bethany and the woman were actually seen together.

Authorities have stated that Larry has not been cooperative with the investigation. He allegedly refuses to speak with detectives. Larry did speak with journalist Brandon Barnett, but he stuck to his original version of events and did not reveal any new details on what might’ve happened to Bethany. However, Brandon was also able to interview a friend of Larry’s—a man referred to by “Harold”. Harold stated that Larry and Bethany visited him at his home in Little Rock, Arkansas the night before Bethany’s disappearance. At some point during the visit, Larry apparently implied to Harold that he intended to flee to Mexico with Bethany. Although Larry obviously did not flee to Mexico himself, Harold’s version of events supports the theory that Larry wanted to keep Bethany away from her mother.

Bethany remains missing today. TBI is currently investigating her case and are asking anybody to with information on her disappearance to come forward. If you have any information that could lead to Bethany’s whereabouts, please contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at (800) TBI-FIND.

List Series: Missing Far From Home

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Murder of Sarah Stern

19 year-old Sarah Lee Stern (2016)

Sarah Lee Stern was a budding YouTube star pursuing a career in the arts when she was reported missing in Neptune City, New Jersey on December 3rd, 2016. A massive search for Sarah was prompted when her car was found abandoned, with the keys inside, on Belmar Bridge over Shark River. Thinking she may have jumped, a dive rescue team searched the water, possibly for her body, but none is found. In the days following her disappearance, both police and community members searched for Sarah in the surrounding area. Unfortunately, the searchers were unable to find Sarah or any clues to her whereabouts. 

On February 1st, 2017, nearly two months after her disappearance, Sarah’s childhood friend Preston Taylor (19) confessed that on the night of December 2nd, 2016, he helped Liam McAtasney (19) throw Sarah’s body over Belmar Bridge and into Shark River. Earlier that day, Liam allegedly went to Sarah’s house and strangled her to death before stealing $7,000 from her. After that, he left Sarah’s body at her house and called Preston to ask him to help dispose of her body. Preston then went to Sarah’s house, retrieved her body, and hid her under a bush near her home. Later that evening, both Liam and Preston returned to Sarah’s home and placed her body in the front passenger seat of her own car. Liam then drove Sarah’s car to Belmar Bridge, with Preston following in his own car. Upon arriving, the two threw her body into the river. 
Liam McAtasney (left) and Preston Taylor (right)

Sarah, Liam and Preston were all childhood friends. In fact, Preston and Sarah attended the prom together in high school. Liam and Preston also feigned concern for Sarah following her disappearance, and volunteered in the initial search for her. Prosecutors allege that Liam had been planning to rob and kill Sarah for at least 6 months and that he let Preston in on the plan sometime before it occurred. Preston pleaded guilty to all of his charges in April 2017. Liam maintained his not guilty plea and went to trial in January 2019.
Preston, Sarah and Liam pictured together before their prom in 2014

A jury ultimately found Liam guilty of murdering Sarah in February 2019. At his trial, a video was played that contained a recording of Liam detailing what he did to Sarah. This video was secretly recorded a few weeks after Sarah’s death by a friend of Liam’s who was working with police. In the recording, Liam is heard saying “it took me half an hour to kill her. The worst part of it is I thought I was walking out with $50,000 to $100,000 in my pocket. [But] she had one safe that she took money out of and it only had $10,000.” Liam also admitted to studying Sarah’s mannerisms–particularly her movements while driving–in the months leading up to her death. That way, when Liam left Sarah’s home in her car, the neighbor’s surveillance camera would capture movements identical to Sarah’s typical movements while driving and make it appear that Sarah was the one who voluntarily left her home in the car.  

Preston Taylor also testified at Liam’s trial. He maintained that Liam planned to kill Sarah for months before doing so, and that the two disposed of her body together.

In June 2019, Liam McAtasney was sentenced to life in prison without possiblity of parole. Sarah's body has never been found. 


Lists including Sarah Stern's case:

The Disappearance & Murder of Kayleah Wilson

Image source: Dignity Memorial Kayleah Wilson was only 12 years-old when she was tragically murdered during the spring of 2010. The young g...