Hidden room, evidence of abductions found on Joughin murder suspect's property

Published: Jul. 28, 2016 at 2:15 PM EDT
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Authorities find hidden room on Worley's property in Joughin murder investigation

Late Thursday afternoon, authorities unsealed a search warrant involving James D. Worley's property. According to police documents, investigators found a hidden room inside Worley's barn.

Worley is charged with murder in the disappearance and murder of Sierah Joughin. Joughin was last seen riding her bicycle on July 19 near her home in Fulton County. Deputies found her body in a shallow grave in a cornfield not far from where police found her bicycle.

Authorities have spent the past several days digging through the farmhouse and barns where Worley operated a small-engine repair shop surrounded by northwestern Ohio's fields of soybeans and corn.

According to the search warrant, the hidden room was under bales of hay and locked from the outside. It reportedly had a freezer with blood in it. It also had restraints police say were designed for holding victims. Police also reportedly found several pairs of women's underwear on the property. Worley also told investigators he had hidden cameras all over the property. Police say they did find a nanny cam.

Authorities also reported finding duct tape at Worley's property. Tests on that tape found both Joughin's and Worley's DNA.

According to the police documents, Worley told a court-mandated therapist he "learned from each abduction" he had done, "and the next one he was going to bury."

Cell phone records outlined in the court documents show Worley was at the location where police found Joughin's bicycle. Those records indicate Worley was there for two hours during the time Joughin was missing.

Police spoke with Worley during while going through the neighborhood where Joughin went missing. Court documents show that Worley told investigators he did not steal anything or kill anyone. Court records show the suspect did have bruises on his lower legs and marks on his arms. Worley also told investigators he found two bikes in the area where Joughin went missing. He claimed he had touched one of them and detectives would find his fingerprints on it.

Worley reportedly told police his motorcycle broke down and he pushed it into a cornfield, losing his helmet and sunglasses, as well as fuses from the bike and a screwdriver. Detectives found the missing items Worley described near the scene where Joughin's bike was found. According to court documents, there was human blood on the motorcycle helmet.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said earlier this week that Worley's criminal history in the 1990 attack made it worth investigating whether other women have been victimized. Court records describe Worley as fitting the profile of serial offender and note that he could potentially have additional, unknown victims

Worley has declined interview requests from the news media, and his attorney said Thursday that he had not seen the search warrants and could not comment.

Worley served three years of a four- to 10-year sentence in the 1990 abduction of a woman who was riding her bike, which happened about 20 miles from where Joughin was riding last week near Metamora.

The woman told authorities she managed to escape Worley's truck after he knocked her from the bike with his truck, pulled her inside the cab and handcuffed her.

Worley entered an Alford plea to abduction, meaning he didn't admit guilt but conceded that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.

Visitation for Joughin will be from 2:00 PM - 9:00 PM on Thursday July 28 at Walker Funeral Home located at 5155 Sylvania Ave.

Joughin's funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM Friday July 29 at Christ the Word Church at 3100 Murd Rd. in Sylvania. Private Interment will take place at Amboy Township Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, contributions are suggested to the Sierah Joughin Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o the Toledo Community Foundation, 300 Madison Ave., Suite 1300, Toledo, OH 43604.

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