'No body' cases can be proved, experts say
Andrew Ford , @AndrewFordNews Published 8:50 p.m. ET Feb. 2, 2017 | Updated 12:44 p.m. ET Feb. 6, 2017
Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor, both 19 from Neptune City, face charges in connection with the murder of Sarah Stern and the disposing of her body in order to avoid detection. THOMAS P. COSTELLO
While Sarah Stern remains missing, prosecutors will have to turn to other evidence to prove their murder case
(Photo: Courtesy Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office)
A missing piece of evidence common to homicide cases – the body of the deceased – hasn't stopped the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office from filing charges in what they are calling the murder of Sarah Stern.
Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor, both 19, were charged Thursday with crimes related to the death of Stern, 19. McAtasney is charged with killing Stern. The prosecutor's office hasn't said how it plans to make its case.
A murder case without a body can be proved, experts told the Asbury Park Press. Prosecutors focus on other evidence — circumstances that indicate that a person was killed and who killed them.
“You essentially prove the case that they haven't done what you’d expect them to be doing," said Alton D. Kenney, a former first assistant Monmouth County prosecutor who works as a defense attorney in Brick. Kenney was involved in the 1975 prosecution of notorious New Jersey serial killer Robert Zarinksy, winning a case that was the first murder conviction in New Jersey in which a body hadn't been found, Kenney said.
Kenney described how a prosecutor might put on evidence of the victim's breaks in habits. He gave the example of a victim who routinely calls family members, but hasn't done so since they went missing. Other evidence could include no activity in the victim's bank account or their cell phone going unused.
Thomas A. DiBiase, a former federal homicide prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who consults on "no body" murder cases, described three elements of evidence important to such a case:
•Forensic evidence like blood spatter, hair, fibers or fingerprints
•Confessions to family or friends
•Confessions to police
For more: Asbury Park Press
Posted by Thomas A. (Tad) DiBiase, The No Body Guy