From the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office …
A Neptune City teen missing since Friday is the subject of a massive search after her abandoned vehicle was discovered in the shoulder of the southbound lanes of the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced in a released statement.
“We are asking everyone to keep an eye out for this young woman, and report any possible sightings as soon as possible,” Gramiccioni said.
Sarah Stern, 19, was last seen at her Neptune City residence on the afternoon of Dec. 2, 2016, and a few hours later her 1994 silver four-door Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight was found abandoned on the crest of the bridge by a passerby who reported the car to a Neptune Township police officer.
The abandoned car was operational and the keys were found in the vehicle. There were no persons in the area and the vehicle was subsequently towed from the road by the Neptune Township Police Department.
The Neptune Township Police Department contacted the Neptune City Police Department to request a welfare check of the registered owner of the vehicle. Upon arrival at the address of the registered owner, a family member of the missing girl, the residence was found unlocked and no one was home.
Further investigation determined Sarah Stern was the missing driver of the vehicle and her family did not know of her whereabouts.
Neptune Township Police subsequently notified the Belmar Police Department around 3:40 a.m., reporting the vehicle was actually in Belmar’s jurisdiction sparking a broader search for the girl. Belmar Police called in the Belmar Water Rescue Team to search Shark River to determine if Stern may have jumped from the bridge.
“An extensive search in the water and the surrounding area was conducted in an attempt to locate Miss Stern with negative results,” Gramiccioni said.
The Belmar Water Rescue Team was assisted by the United States Coast Guard, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team, the Area Network of Shore Water Emergency Responders (ANSWER) team and the New Jersey State Police. Those assets searched the Shark River with divers, boats and helicopters over the next several days, but no persons were found in the water.
Preliminary attempts to locate Sarah Stern were unsuccessful. On Sunday, Dec. 4, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office joined the investigation in an effort to locate Stern. Detectives have continued to investigate her whereabouts since that time.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Belmar Police Department are joined in the investigation by the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit, Neptune City Police Department and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
At this time, Sarah’s whereabouts are unknown. The investigation is active and ongoing with all possible scenarios being explored.
Stern is described as a 19-year-old white female who stands about 5-foot 6-inches tall and weighing about 130 lbs. with a medium complexion, long dark brown hair that hangs past her shoulders and hazel eyes.
Anyone with information that may assist in this investigation is asked to contact Detective Brian Weisbrot from the Monmouth County Prosecutors Office at 732-431-7160 or Detective John Mahoney from the Belmar Police Department at 732-681-1700.
Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers confidential telephone tip-line by calling 1-800-671-4400; can text “MONMOUTH” plus their tip to 274637; or, they can email a tip via the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com. Monmouth County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of criminals and fugitives.