Student kidnapped and killed by past offender
MOMENTS before she vanished, 20-year-old Sierah Joughin had been enjoying an early evening bike ride down a rural road towards her home in Metamora, Ohio.
The student was cycling beside her boyfriend of seven years, Josh Kolasinski, who took pictures of his smiling girlfriend before the pair parted ways.
It was around 6.45pm on 19 July 2016 when Josh kissed her goodbye and watched her cycle off, reports The Sun.
But Sierah never reached her home.
Her mum, Shiela, was immediately worried when her daughter failed to turn up and contacted the police.
A massive search effort involving police and community members was launched. Hundreds scoured the area looking for the young University of Toledo student.
Sierah's bike was found abandoned in a cornfield, but there were no signs of the missing girl - only other items that didn't belong to her including male sunglasses, a screwdriver and a fuse box.
A passing driver spotted a motorcycle helmet and took it to police.
The helmet had Sierah's blood on it, as well as DNA belonging to a man who lived just a mile away from the scene.
Disturbingly, the man was 57-year-old James Worley, a convicted kidnapper who had done jail time for violently abducting a woman on a bike in 1990.
Worley lived on a farm near Delta Ohio which was surrounded by field of corn.
His horrific secret past was too much for police to ignore.
In 1990 he went to prison for abducting Robin Gardner, then 26.
She had been cycling along a country road just 20 miles from where Sierah went missing.
Worley rammed her off her bike with his truck, sending Robin hurtling into a ditch.
He stopped, pretending to offer help, before hitting her over the head and dragging her into his truck.
Robin began screaming as Worley pulled handcuffs from his glovebox.
She managed to jump out of the truck and was rescued by a motorcyclist who had noticed her distress.
After the trial, the attacker got away with serving just three years of a four-to-10-year sentence.
Following Sierah's disappearance, Police raided Worley's properties, discovering a makeshift dungeon hidden in a secret room behind hay bales.
They also found a freezer lined with carpet that had blood inside, women's underwear, handcuffs, rope and tape.
Most significantly, some items including a mattress and paper towels had Sierah's DNA on them.
Among the mountains of evidence against him, it was revealed Worley's phone had been in the spot where Sierah's bike was found for two hours the day she went missing.
He also had marks on his arms and legs and in the weeks before the attack had searched for pornography using the words "hitchhiker, helpless, gag, rape, hogtied".
On 22 July, three days after she disappeared, a search party found Sierah's body burning in a freshly dug grave in a cornfield.
Her wrists were handcuffed and bound to her taped ankles with rope. She died of asphyxiation over several minutes after a large plastic bag was placed around her head, an autopsy revealed.
There was no evidence of sexual assault.
Worley was charged with murder and abduction and pleaded not guilty to all charges.
But in April this year, as the trial came to end, the twisted killer was found guilty of all charges, including murder, abduction and abuse of a corpse.
During the sentencing he ranted for 45 minutes claiming he wasn't the killer and that he had been framed.
In one sick moment, he turned to the victim's family and said: "Her loss is a substantial blow to everyone".
Family members later walked out of the courtroom when Worley refereed to Sierah as a "beautiful girl".
Worley was sentenced to death by the judge who rubbished his claim to innocence.
The judge said: "If I thought there was a snowball's chance in hell that you were innocent you would be looking at life."
Sierah's family and boyfriend spoke of their heartbreak and torment at the loss of their "beautiful" loved one who "lifted up the room" when she was alive.
"The pain is excruciating and the depth of emptiness we feel is unexplainable," Sierah's aunt, Tara Ice, said. "However, I want him to know this; it may seem that he has broken us, but we as a family are stronger than he thinks and because we were lucky enough to have had Sierah's love, we're unbreakable."
Sierah's mum, Sheila, told how she started campaigning for 'Sierah's Law', which would establish a register for violent offenders.
She said: "I'll continually ask why? Why her, why didn't she get away, why didn't we find her sooner, why? For me, the death penalty is what he deserves," she said.
"Sierah's life was worth far more than the 20 years she was able to live. She has inspired people she did not know, and I can only wonder what great things she would have accomplished if she was still alive, but in her death I know she's moving mountains."
This story was originally published on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.