Ohio Man Kidnapped and Murdered College Student, 20, Last Seen on a Bike Ride
Joughin, an incoming junior at the University of Toledo at the time of her death, was reported missing in Lyons, Ohio, by her family on July 19, 2016
After an emotional two-week trial, an Ohio jury this week convicted James Worley in the 2016 kidnapping and murder of 20-year-old Sierah Joughin, PEOPLE confirms.
Worley, 58, was found guilty Tuesday on all 19 charges against him, including aggravated murder, murder, abduction, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse, according to a Fulton County court official.
He faces a possible death sentence.
His attorney, Mark Berling, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Jurors are scheduled to return to court Monday to begin the penalty process, the court official tells PEOPLE.
“I want to express to you how pleased we are that justice was served today, and this murderer was found guilty on all counts,” Joughin’s uncle Howard Ice, speaking for their family, said afterward, according to the Toledo Blade.
“Needless to say this has been a long four weeks,” Ice reportedly said “Having to sit through the detailed testimony, the piles of evidence, and the learning of what this killer and past violent offender — which is really important to us, past violent offender — did to our beautiful Sierah was gut-wrenching.”
Joughin, an incoming junior at the University of Toledo at the time of her death, was reported missing in Lyons, Ohio, by her family on July 19, 2016. She didn’t return from a bike ride with her boyfriend, who’d been accompanying her on his motorcycle but turned back during their trip.
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Prosecutors said at Worley’s trial that he attacked Joughin during her ride and then brought her back to his barn, according to the Blade.
Police said at the time that a host of physical evidence, including Worley’s blood near where Joughin’s bike was found in a shallow cornfield grave, linked him to her killing.
Joughin’s body was found hogtied, her wrists handcuffed behind her back and her ankles bound with rope, according to an autopsy report obtained by PEOPLE.
She was not sexually assaulted and had choked to death over a period of minutes on a “large plastic gag,” according the report.
During a search of Worley’s property, authorities discovered a secret “room” that had bloody walls, a bloody freezer and restraints, “for holding humans against their will,” according to police documents previously obtained by PEOPLE.
Zip-tie restraints, a ski mask and Mace were found in Worley’s truck, police said. Plastic sheeting, ropes, chains and a meat hook were also found on his property, among many other items, according to authorities.
Worley has a history of attacking women: In 1990, he pleaded guilty to attacking and abducting a woman who was riding a bike, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE. He was released on parole in 1993.
During their investigation, police said they feared Worley was a serial offender. Authorities searched Worley’s property for additional remains but did not discover any.