Hi Crime Sunday Readers, I hope you guys are doing really well! I started a YouTube channel last week and I am really loving making true crime videos along with writing here on my blog! You may notice I also have ads on my site as it was approved by Google AdSense! I know ads can be annoying but it helps me support my family and I promise to keep ads at a minimum. Thank you for your support and being here. Today’s story is similar to the Sydney Sutherland case that I covered a couple of weeks ago. Today I am bringing you the murder story of Sierah Joughin.
TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains sensitive content that maybe triggering to some readers.
Sierah “Ce” Catherine Joughin was born February 11, 1996, in Sylvania, Ohio, and was your typical girl next door. In High School, she played volleyball, acted in school plays, and was a part of the National Honors Society. Sierah was described by her loved ones to be full of life and had a terrific sense of humor. She loved traveling the world and her tour across Italy was one of the most memorable trips she had taken. She cherished both city and country life and had a love for horses. Family was very important to her, she had two sisters and two brothers, and her parents, Sheila and Tom, had a close relationship with all of their children. Sierah loved spending time with her family at Coldwater Lake, a family tradition.
Sierah graduated from Evergreen High School in 2014 and continued her relationship with her high school sweetheart, Josh Kolasinski, even though the two attended different colleges. Sierah planned on starting a career in Human Resources after graduating with a business degree from The University of Toledo. She moved in with her grandparents during college and completed most of her schoolwork from home. They lived in a very rural area with endless rows of cornfields.
Josh lived close to Sierah so the two spent a lot of quality time together and on July 19th, Sierah decided to ride her new bike to his house so she could meet him for a bike ride. She was really excited about purchasing her new bicycle so she looked for any excuse to ride it. Josh took a photo of Sierah and posted it on his Snapchat story, not knowing this would be the last photo taken of Sierah. Sierah and Josh parted ways off of county road 6 to head back home as they lived in opposite directions.
Around 9:30 pm that night, Sheila, Sierah’s mom, arrived at the grandparent’s house and realized Sierah still wasn’t home. She tried calling her daughter and when she got no answer she started to worry. Sierah was really good about keeping in touch with her family so not answering her phone was not like her. Sheila really started to worry when Josh called her and asked if Sierah was there because he had sent her a couple of text messages but she hadn’t responded to him either. Sheila reported her daughter missing and the search for Sierah began.
Since Josh was the last known person Sierah was with, it was no surprise that he was the first person police wanted to speak with. His story added up and the police quickly cleared him as a suspect. Josh told police about a suspicious white van he saw on the bike ride. He was able to give the police the last three characters of the license plate and the police tracked it back to a woman. The woman’s van was searched for blood and DNA but nothing came back so that lead became dead pretty quickly as well.
The police used GPS tracking information they gathered from Sierah’s Fitbit and iPhone to expand their search once again. On county road 6, they came across a disturbed area of cornfields where they found Sierah’s bike, two pairs of sunglasses, and a motorcycle helmet. Sierah’s bike had blood on it and the scene made it clear there was a struggle. A reward of $100,000 was released for any information leading to Sierah’s whereabouts. The police expanded their search again as they thought maybe Sierah was kidnapped and being held by someone in the area.
At this point, investigators had no solid leads so they started to look into sex offenders that lived in the area and they came across an “interesting” man by the name of James Worley. There was also a witness that came forward in the middle of the investigation that saw a van driving recklessly close to where Sierah’s bike was found the same night she was last seen. They thought it was so strange that they actually wrote down the license plate # and gave it to the police. Sure enough, it came back to be registered in James’s name. James was born on April 8th, 1959, and graduated from Evergreen High School with a 1.9 GPA which he blamed on his marijuana addiction. In 1990, he attempted to kidnap a woman by the name of Robin Gardner and served three years in prison. He was clearly a person that the police needed to question. As soon as they arrived at his house to talk to him he said “I ain’t out here killing chicks” before the police even asked him anything. He appeared to be very offended that the police wanted to talk to him about Sierah and claimed he could never be capable of doing anything to her. He had a bit of word vomit and he told police how his motorcycle broke down and the helmet and sunglasses found by Sierah’s bike were his… interesting. He also had markings on his face and bruises on his arms that looked like they happened recently. All of this set off alarm bells for the police and they detained James while they searched his house.
James lived on a three-acre property with his brother and mother. During the search, they found ropes, tape, zip ties, weapons, ammo, handcuffs, and video equipment. Inside of James’s van, they found a ski mask, duct tape, more zip ties, and mace. In a barn on the property that James claimed as his, they also found what seemed to be a homemade dungeon. Inside this secret room, they found an air mattress with restraints near it, multiple pairs of women’s underwear, one pair with blood on them, a nanny cam, and a fridge with blood stains on the inside. They continued to search all over the Worley’s property but they never found Sierah.
Investigators bring James to the police station for more questioning and they ask him about this secret room. James tries to explain away this secret dungeon by stating he is starting a pornography production company but the police didn’t buy it, they were certain they found Jame’s torture room. Quickly into his questioning, he refused to speak to the police any further or admit to where Sierah was.
On July 22nd on county road 7, just 12 miles from Jame’s house, police find the body of Sierah Joughin in a shallow grave. Her body was found hogtied, bound, and gagged. She was found only wearing an adult diaper. The medical examiner concluded that she died of asphyxiation and it took her approximately 10 minutes to suffocate to death. She also had a hairline fracture in the back of her skull and a cut on her forehead. There was no indication that any sexual assault happened. My heart goes out to Sierah’s loved ones, I am so sorry for your loss.
After her body was found, James was arrested for aggravated murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, assault, and possession of a firearm and criminal tools. He entered a non-guilty plea and his jury trial began in March of 2018. During the trial, the prosecuting attorney presented that Sierah’s DNA was found on a piece of duct tape, on the air mattress, on his bike helmet, ski mask, zip ties, and a pair of woman’s underwear all found on Jame’s property. He also presented Jame’s search history from his computer that included porn sites in which he searched the R-word, forced, hitchhiker, helpless, and gagged. He explained that after watching porn all day he went for a ride on his motorcycle, saw Sierah riding her bike home, and intentionally hit her, knocking her over. He then hit her in the head with his bike helmet, knocking her out, and kept her there until dark. He then went back to get his van and took her to his dungeon where he hogtied her and gagged her with a dog toy which caused her to suffocate to death. He then buried her in a cornfield.
The defense did their best to prove his innocence by saying James didn’t know Sierah and the reason his belongings were by her bicycle is because his motorcycle broke down. The defense failed because after just six hours of deliberation, the jury found him guilty.
James spoke to the court during his sentencing hearing, attempting to maintain his innocence and stating that Sierah was a “beautiful girl” and that her murder had caused him and his family great harm. He spoke for almost 45 minutes during this time Sierah’s family exited the courtroom. The judge sentenced him to death, and his execution is set for May 20, 2025.
Sierah was murdered by a violent repeat offender and Sierah’s family and community want to do everything they can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. They fought for Sierah’s law which passed unanimously in 2018 in the state of Ohio. This law created a database that can now be used by law enforcement and citizens to find out where violent offenders live in our communities. Sierah Strong is a self-awareness and defense program that provides to the community free of charge. They teach young people ages 6-16 how to defend themselves in dangerous situations and provide laminated KidPrint IDs that feature the child’s photo, fingerprint, and vital statistics to help find a missing child. To donate to this program, click here!
I applaud the investigators on this case. I think they did a phenomenal job handling the investigation and how quickly they found out who took Sierah’s life. I have no doubt that if James wasn’t caught, he would have done this again. My heart breaks for her family and it just isn’t fair that Sierah’s life ended in such a horribly violent way. James is still fighting for his innocence and is a classic narcissist in my opinion. What are your thoughts?
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