Sierah Joughin Murder Suspect Had Hidden Room in Barn

Among the items found by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office upon execution of the search warrant of James D. Worley’s home and property was a room hidden in his barn for which the entrance was locked with a ratchet strap and obscured by hay bales.

Update July 29, 2016: Authorities released additional information about some of the items found in their searches of Worley’s property including handcuffs, rope, handguns and a shock collar.


Worley, 57, of Delta, Ohio was first charged with abduction in the case of missing 20-year-old Sierah Joughin on Friday, July 22, 2016, three days after the young woman was reported missing by her family. It was on that same day that Fulton County law enforcement secured a search warrant for Worley’s property.

A woman’s remains were found later on July 22, remains that authorities believed to be that of Joughin and were later confirmed to be so, resulting in a charge of murder against Worley on Tuesday, July 26, 2016.

In a situation eerily similar to an incident in 1990 in which Worley was charged with and convicted of abduction of a young woman riding her bike, Sierah Joughin went missing while riding her bike home on the night of July 22. Her purple bicycle was found later that same night in a corn field a few rows in from the rural road on which she was riding.

Evidence on Worley Property, Statements by Suspect Lead Investigators to Consider Whether Their Have Been Other Victims

As Sierah Joughin’s family and the community in Metamora, Ohio come to grips with the loss of the University of Toledo student, the Fulton County Sheriff and law enforcement officials from several areas including the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI have been combing the Worley’s property, including several outbuildings.

The room hidden in the barn contained a freezer lined with carpet that was observed to have blood on it along with apparent blood stains on the walls and restraints authorities described as something to hold a victim. Several pairs of women’s underwear were found on the suspect’s property, in addition to a nanny cam.

Another search warrant revealed that Worley told a therapist he had been seeing as mandated by Lucas County Common Pleas Court after his conviction in 1990 for abduction that he had “learned from each abduction he had done and the next one he was going to bury.”

Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates said her cold case units are looking through files to determine if Worley might have been involved in unsolved cases. Toledo Police Lt. Joe Heffernan, department spokesman, said, “It would make sense from a law enforcement perspective to see if there’s anything he may be related to.”

Amber VanGunten, an attorney in Delta, Ohio, had represented a man accused in the October 25, 1985 disappearance and death of Lori Ann Hill, a 14-year-old Swanton, Ohio resident, plans to ask the Fulton County Sheriff to test Worley’s DNA against that of the DNA found on Hill’s body. The original defendant in the case went to trial, but the jury was unable to render a verdict; prosecutors declined to re-try the young man.

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