James Worley has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of missing Ohio woman Sierah Joughin, and now a disturbing past has emerged for the 57-year-old including a previous conviction for abducting a woman who was riding a bike.
The 20-year-old college student was last seen riding her purple bike alongside her boyfriend on a rural road on Tuesday night, prompting a search that took police and volunteers across the stretch of northwestern Ohio where she went missing.
Though police said they still do not know Sierah’s whereabouts, they were able to make an arrest on Friday in connection with her disappearance. James D. Worley was arrested in the early morning hours on Friday, the Archbold Buckeye reported.
Police have given few details about what led to Worley’s arrest, but a report from McKenzie Kuehnlein of ABC 13 has shed some light on his apparently violent past. In 1990, he pleaded guilty to another abduction of a woman in circumstances strikingly similar to how Sierah Joughin disappeared this week.
Court records show James Worley abducted a woman in 1990–also on a bike. She was able to escape from inside his truck. #BringSierahHome
— McKenzie Kuehnlein (@mckenzie13abc) July 22, 2016
The Toledo Blade noted that Worley’s past conviction came after he attacked and abducted a woman named Robin Gardner, who eventually escaped alive.
“Ms. Gardner was riding her bike when she noticed a flat-bed truck pass her in the opposite direction, according to court records. A few moments later, the same truck struck her from behind, causing her to fall from her bike and tumble into a small ditch on the side of the road. Worley then approached the woman, asked her if she was OK, and came up from behind and struck her on the head with an unknown instrument.
“Worley dragged her over to the truck and told Ms. Gardner to do what he said or threatened to kill her, the court records state. He then forced her into the truck and put a handcuff on one wrist, from which she managed to break free. She escaped through the driver’s door, the records state.”
Worley served a little more than three years in prison for the conviction before being released in 1993. He spent another two years in prison from 2000 to 2002 after pleading guilty to illegal manufacture or cultivation of marijuana and having weapons while under disability.
Police have been searching for evidence near Worley’s home in a rural area of Fulton Township, the Toledo Blade reported. That includes a team of divers who were seen searching a pond on the man’s three-acre property.
The Toledo Blade reported that vehicles were seen driving on and off of Worley’s property throughout the day on Friday, including an American Red Cross vehicle.
— Stephanie Wade (@stephmwade) July 22, 2016
But as the investigation goes on around his property, James Worley is reportedly refusing to cooperate with police.
— WTVG 13abc (@13abc) July 22, 2016
But despite the grim update on Friday, authorities said they were still committed to finding Sierah Joughin and were asking anyone with information to come forward.
“Our No. 1 goal here is we still haven’t located Sierah,” said Fulton County Sheriff Roy Miller (via People magazine).
The circumstances of Sierah Joughin’s disappearance and the arrest of James Worley seemed to confirm the fears expressed by many of the missing woman’s family members, who believed she had been abducted. Sierah was known as a reliable person and never disappeared without telling anyone where she would be going, family members noted.
“We are struggling and trying to stay hopeful,” Joughin’s aunt told People magazine. “We just want her to come home safe and [whoever has her] to just leave her where she is and let us have her back.”
James Worley has been charged with a felony count of abduction in connection to the disappearance of Sierah Joughin.
[Image via Facebook]