Sierah Joughin has been found dead on Friday, police announced Saturday in a grim update in the case of the missing 20-year-old Ohio woman.
Authorities noted that the body of a young woman was found on County Road 7 near where the search for Sierah was taking place. While the body has yet to be positively identified, police said in a live press conference covered by WTOL 11 that they strongly believe it to be Joughin.
DEVASTATING UPDATE: Authorties believe they have found the body of 20-year-old Sierah Joughin. #BringSierahHome— McKenzie Kuehnlein (@mckenzie13abc) July 23, 2016
Police also said they expect new charges to be brought against the suspect, 57-year-old James Worley, who was arrested in the early morning hours on Friday in connection to Joughin’s disappearance.
There had been nervous anticipation building for several hours after police announced the Saturday press conference. There were already signs that Joughin was suspected to have been killed, as news outlets noted that divers were seen in a pond on Worley’s property on Friday.
Police do not believe that there was a previous connection between Sierah Joughin and James Worley.
Sierah Joughin first went missing on Tuesday night after parting ways with her boyfriend. Sierah had gone on a bike ride in the area where she lives in northwestern Ohio, with her boyfriend riding alongside Sierah on his motorcycle.
Police quickly announced that Sierah’s boyfriend, Josh Kolasinski, was fully cooperating in the investigation and was not considered a suspect.
That was the last time the 20-year-old college student would be seen, prompting a search that stretched across the area. Investigators found Sierah’s purple bike abandoned near a corn field and signs of a struggle in the area but held out hope throughout the week that Joughin might still be found alive.
“Our No. 1 goal here is we still haven’t located Sierah,” said Fulton County Sheriff Roy Miller late in the week via People magazine.
But those hopes grew dim after police announced the arrest of James D. Worley, who initially was charged with a felony count of abduction. As the Archbold Buckeye reported, Worley had a 1990 conviction for abducting a woman who was riding a bike. That woman, Robin Gardner, was able to escape from Worley.
The Toledo Blade provided details of Worley’s brutal attack.
“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.”
Police said on Friday that James Worley was not participating with investigators. They have not yet said how Joughin’s body was located or what may have led them to her body.
There had been widespread support across Ohio in the search for Sierah Joughin. Some family and friends handed out flyers with information about Sierah, and others raised more than $25,000 through a GoFundMe page to support the search. Many others showed their support online by sharing information about her disappearance with the hashtag #BringSierahHome.
There was even a $100,000 reward offered for information that led to Joughin’s whereabouts.
Police have not yet said what additional charges James Worley may face now that Sierah Joughin has been found dead.
[Image via Facebook]