Sierah kissed her boyfriend and rode away. He never saw her alive again.

Sierah Joughin

Sierah Joughin was riding alongside her boyfriend of seven years, Josh Kolasinski, on the afternoon of July 19, 2016. The 20-year-old had just been visiting him in northwest Ohio and was on her way home.

To see her off, Josh rode alongside her part of the way on his motorbike, and, in one happy moment, took a photo of his girlfriend, smiling as she cycled along the country road in rural Fulton County.

Sierah Joughin
Image: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

Then the university student kissed him, and said goodbye as she rode off.

It would be the last time Josh ever saw his girlfriend.

That same evening, a man named James Worley was in the area.

In 1990 Worley had abducted a woman riding her bike alone very close to where Sierah was riding. He hit and handcuffed her, before she escaped. He served three years for the crime.

And in the summer of 2016, he saw his next victim.

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When Sierah didn't arrive home, her family reported her missing.

A Facebook page was set up, 'Help find Sierah Joughin', which asked those who knew the young student to share a poster appealing for information.

But the search ended three days later when police discovered a body in a cornfield in the same area Sierah had been riding.

A search volunteer had earlier seen a latex glove and some corn that looked out of place. Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Megan Roberts later testified in court that at the scene she saw tyre impressions, suspected blood on the corn, reddish-brown blood stains on Sierah's bike, an orange screwdriver and a green sock. Clear signs of an abduction.

When they later found Sierah's body in a shallow grave by County Road Seven, she was handcuffed and hog-tied. An autopsy confirmed she had died of asphyxiation from a plastic gag that was placed in her mouth.

That same day, July 22, they arrested Worley as a suspect in Sierah's abduction and murder, issuing a warrant to search his large property.

In the days following his arrest, police found increasingly incriminating evidence at his property, including women's underwear stained with blood, rope, tape, zip ties, handcuffs, several firearms and ammunition.

Disturbingly, authorities found a makeshift dungeon hidden behind bales of hay in the 59-year-old’s barn. They also found a freezer lined with carpet.

This - along with a helmet found in the area nearby Sierah's abduction site containing his DNA and her blood - stacked up to a solid case against Worley.

james-worley
Image: Northwest Ohio Corrections Centre

So despite his pleas of innocence, in March this year, after just six hours of deliberation, a jury found him guilty of her aggravated abduction, murder and 15 other charges relating to her death.

But his torment of Sierah's family wasn't over. Before sentencing in April, he spoke of the woman in a cruelly familiar way, saying in court, "Her loss is a substantial blow to everyone," the Chicago Tribune reports.

When he went on to call his victim "a beautiful girl" his family left the courtroom, at which point he said, "The family isn’t taking this well. I can understand."

But they were there for the moment their loved one's killer was handed the death penalty for his crimes.

In the years since Sierah's loss, her family has campaigned for a public registry to be created in the state that tracks people convicted of violent crimes. In April, Ohio's Senate approved a bill that will see it become a reality.

Her boyfriend Josh, along with his mum, sister and Sierah's mum, has also set up a charity in her honour called Keeping Our Girls Safe.

The group runs annual memorial rides in the community. The money they raise provides self-defence classes for girls in the hope that the next time a woman encounters a monster like the one who took Sierah, their story may not end the same way.

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