Investigation Discovery is a popular channel that dives deeply into true crime happenings. It is known for its thoroughly researched and detailed reports on cases that have transpired all over the country. The abduction and death of a 20-year old college student are reviewed in ‘Living a Nightmare: The Long Way Home.’ In this article, we explore the background of the man who was eventually convicted for the crime.
Who is James Worley?
James D. Worley was born on April 8, 1959, in Tacoma, Washington. He graduated from the Evergreen High School in Ohio in 1978, albeit with a 1.59-grade point average. He attributed these scores to the fact that he smoked marijuana extensively since he was 14. Worley worked in different roles such as a farmer and a crew member for various fairs in the state.
More recently, however, James Worley is known for the murder of a college student named Sierah Joughin. She was studying human resource management at the University of Toledo and was just 20 years old at the time of her demise. On July 19, 2016, Sierah was riding her cycle home from her boyfriend’s place and was abducted near a cornfield on County Road 6 in Fulton County. Her family alerted authorities when no contact with her could be established.
The cycle was found later that evening. Along with that, a pair of men’s sunglasses, automotive fuses, a helmet with a bloody handprint, and a screwdriver were also found on the scene. A witness told the cops about a van that was speeding, and then, gave them the license plate as well. It led to Worley. The police found items like zip ties and mace in his truck, and there was blood on his bike.
However, it did not stop here. Worley had a barn that had a secret room. Blood was found on restraints and a freezer with a carpet lining. A plethora of ladies underwear was discovered, and one even had bloodstains on it. Worley even admitted that the property had hidden cameras. There was duct tape that tested positive for both Worley and Joughin’s DNA. A few days later, the body of the student was also found hogtied and gagged (with a plastic toy) on County Road 7. An autopsy stated that the cause of death was asphyxiation.
Surprisingly, this was not the first time the man had kidnapped someone. Back in July 1990, Worley abducted a woman named Robin Gardner while she was riding her bike in Whitehouse, Ohio. She said that his truck first knocked her bike into a ditch, and then told her to get into the vehicle while holding a screwdriver against her neck. “He says get in the truck or I’m going to kill you.” Luckily, however, she was able to escape, and he served 3 years in prison after he petitioned for an early release. Worley then went back to prison in 2000 for drug-related charges and was released early in 2002.
Where is James Worley Today?
James Worley was arrested on 19 charges, including kidnapping, aggravated murder, tampering with evidence, and felonious assault. He pleaded not guilty. At his trial, Dr. John Matthew Fabian, a psychologist, testified that Worley had a number of mental health issues such as sexual sadism owing to a tumultuous upbringing.
The convict’s sister, Cynthia Barlow, worked at LAPD, and hence did not appear at the trial. She did, however, do an interview which was played in court, in which she said that their father was a violent man, especially after drinks. Once, the kids saw their father chasing their mother with a knife. Dr. Fabian also testified that Worley had walked in on his stepfather raping Barlow twice. Moreover, there was also a mention of a possibly deceased prostitute in the 2000s that many felt could have been Worley’s doing. However, her body was never found and thus a conclusion couldn’t be reached.
After compelling testimony from the likes of BCI Special Agent Megan Roberts, Toledo Police Detective David Morford, and his previous victim, Robin Gardner, a jury found him guilty of 17 counts. Judge Jeffrey Robinson bestowed the death penalty on Worley, and said, “And one further comment Mr. Worley, if I thought there was a snowball’s chance in hell that you were innocent, you’d be looking at life.” Apart from this, he also received an additional sentence of 24 years and 3 months for kidnapping, felonious assault, and other charges.
Nine months after Sierah’s passing, her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Sheila Vaculik, her mother, won Worley’s property and $3.6 million (which she doesn’t expect to see from him anytime soon). To erase the reminder of her daughter’s death, and possibly get some closure, the family got the barn torn down. As for James, he is serving his sentence at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution as prisoner #A743593. Although his original execution was set for June 3, 2019, it has been delayed due to appeals. In fact, his legal team is also seeking a new trial.
Read More: Where is Sierah Joughin’s Boyfriend Now?