James Worley is currently on trial for the aggravated murder and abduction of University of Toledo student Sierah Joughin. Disturbing evidence found at Worley’s home raise troublesome questions about how Joughin spent her last hours.
Joughin went missing on July 19, 2016 while riding her bike on a rural road near Toledo, according to CNN. Joughin had been texting with her boyfriend but went silent later that night. Three days later her body was discovered buried in a shallow grave in a cornfield, just a few miles from Worley’s home. The very same day her body was discovered, Worley was taken into custody.
After Joughin was reported missing by her family, police were able to track evidence (her bike, two pair of sunglasses, and a blood stained screwdriver and motorcycle helmet) back to Worley, then 57, who admitted to having lost a screwdriver and helmet.
"These items were precisely what items were found on the scene, and it was not made public that any of these items were found," a search warrant stated, according to CNN. "He made the comments that he didn't steal anything or kill anyone. Interviewees observed what appeared to be fresh marks on the arms of Mr. Worley and what appeared to be bruising on his lower legs."
When police searched Worley’s three-acre property, they made a chilling discovery: The home seemed straight out of a horror flick. They found a hidden room with restraints attached to its walls, The Washington Post reported. A freezer was also found lined with a blood-stained carpet. Then, in Worley’s truck, police found a ski mask, rope tape, zip ties and two pairs of handcuffs. The victim's blood was found throughout Worley's house, including in that freezer. Investigators found Joughin's underwear and a "nanny cam" on his property, as well.
Police hinted that there could be additional victims. Worley could even possibly be a serial killer, it seems.
“Worley fits the profile of a serial offender and could potentially have additional unknown victims who could have been kept at the above described location,” Sgt. Matthew Smithmyer of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department said, according to the Toledo Blade.
This wasn’t his first time in trouble with the law, or even the first time Worley has been accused of kidnapping a woman on a bike. Back in 1990, Worley attacked a woman on a bicycle, whom he handcuffed in the back of his truck and threatened to kill her should she not comply with his demands. Worley stabbed her with a screwdriver before she escaped.
At the time Worley said that he was only trying to restrain the woman because she was attempting to leave the scene of an accident.
"My family and myself are good, decent and very honest people," he wrote in a letter to Judge Charles Doneghy, according to CNN.
He was found guilty and served a few years in prison for the 1990 incident, according to NBC24 in Ohio.
Worley’s most recent trial began on March 12, according to The Toledo Blade. Jurors listened to hours of audio recordings of interrogations of Worley made during the investigation along with testimony from police.
Fulton County Prosecutor Scott Haselman addressed the jury.
“I simply ask that you follow the trail of evidence,” said Haselman, according to The Toledo Blade.
Defense attorney Merle Dech countered by arguing that Worley's guilt cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Josh Kolasinski, Joughin's boyfriend, tearfully testified as well.
“She didn’t need me by her side. [...] I gave her a kiss and said ‘bye," Kolasinski said, describing his last encounter with the victim.
Joughin loved horses and was an avid member of the University of Toledo’s business fraternity, according to her obituary.
The jury consists of nine women and three men.
Worley potentially faces the death penalty if found guilty.
Stream the trial as it proceeds, below.
[Photo: Fulton County Sheriff's Office]
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