In a chilling case of life imitating art, a suspect in the death of an Ohio college student had a secret room on his property containing restraints, a freezer containing blood and evidence of other victims.
And that’s just the beginning.
James Dean Worley, 57, was charged this week with aggravated murder and abduction in the death of 20-year-old University of Toledo student Sierah Joughin, CNN reported. Joughin disappeared on July 19 while riding her bike in Fulton County near Toledo. Her boyfriend exchanged text messages with her for a few hours that evening just before she went missing, according to the report.
Joughin’s body was discovered three days later in a shallow grave in a cornfield 12 miles from Worley’s home. He was arrested that same day. Police said they were led to Worley after Joughin’s family informed them where she was last seen. A subsequent search led police to the cornfield, where they found her bike, evidence of a struggle and a pair of her sunglasses.
The search of the cornfield also turned up a screwdriver and a motorcycle helmet covered in blood. The blood and the sunglasses were later confirmed to contain Worley’s DNA, investigators said. Before even informing him what items were discovered in the cornfield, Worley told authorities that his motorcycle had broken down in that same location and that he’d lost his helmet, sunglasses and screwdriver, according to the report.
“These items were precisely what items were found on the scene, and it was not made public that any of these items were found,” the search warrants say.
Police said Worley also said something that caught their attention.
“He made the comments that he didn’t steal anything or kill anyone,” the search warrants show. “Interviewees observed what appeared to be fresh marks on the arms of Mr. Worley and what appeared to be bruising on his lower legs.”
The search ultimately led police to Worley’s property, and what they found there was even more troubling. Joughin’s blood was discovered on Worley’s motorcycle, along with a ski mask, zip ties and mace. They also found a barn with a hidden room in it covered by bales of hay. Inside, authorities found a freezer with blood in it, duct tape that contained both Worley’s and Joughin’s DNA, several pairs of female underwear, journals, maps and a nanny cam, the report said.
Cell phone records also show that Worley spent two hours at the scene of Joughin’s abduction around the time she was missing. Authorities are now investigating the possibility that Worley is a serial abductor. And there may be additional evidence, that’s strikingly similar, to support that theory. In 1990, Worley was charged with kidnapping and felonious assault after hitting a woman with his truck that was riding her bike along a rural road near Toledo.
The woman, Robin Gardner, told authorities that Worley hit her purposely, hit her in the head with an object, and then tried to handcuff her in his flatbed truck while threatening, “Do what I say or I’ll kill you. I’m serious, I’ll kill you.” She said she managed to escape and and run to a man who had stopped his motorcycle after seeing a struggle inside the truck. Worley inflicted a one-inch laceration on her right knee with a flathead screwdriver, she said.