Police Release Cause Of Death To Young Woman, After Catching SERIAL Abductor


“I didn’t see any [blood and restraints] but it was just another thing that was odd: How it went from being a disaster to it becoming immaculate, like, what drove him to do that?” Peluso says.

When Lisa Peluso heard that James Worley had been charged with the alleged July abduction and murder of 20-year-old Ohio college student Sierah Joughin, she was shocked and disturbed: Peluso and her 14-year-old daughter had been at Worley’s Delta, Ohio, property the day before Joughin disappeared.

According to Peluso, Worley, 57, ran an engine repair service out of his barn. As part of a gift to her daughter, Madalynn, Peluso took her to Worley’s property on July 18 to fix the engine of a vehicle they owned.

Peluso tells PEOPLE that the next 30 minutes with Worley were “bizarre.” She was disturbed that when they showed up to Worley’s property without having scheduled an appointment, Worley remembered their names even despite only having met them once prior, in 2015.

“I was really shocked that he remembered my name [after so long],” Peluso says.
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“And he looked at [my daughter] and was like, “You’re 12,” she adds. (Peluso’s daughter was 12 at the time of their first meeting.)

“Madalynn and I looked at each other and I just thought, ‘That’s weird.'”

Four days later, the dead body of Joughin, a University of Toledo student, was found hogtied in a shallow grave in a cornfield, and Worley was arrested.

According to a recently released autopsy report obtained by PEOPLE, Joughin died when she choked to death on a “large plastic gag.” She died over a period of minutes after the gag, which obstructed her breathing, was placed into her mouth.

Peluso: Worley’s Barn, Once Messy, Was ‘Immaculate’

After a few minutes of talking, Worley invited the pair into his barn to see a motorcycle he was working on, Peluso tells PEOPLE. She says the barn, which was messy the year before, was extremely tidy.

During their search of his property, authorities discovered an allegedly secret“room” Worley kept on his property that had bloody walls, a bloody freezer and restraints, allegedly “for holding human against their will,” according to police documents obtained by PEOPLE.

Peluso says Worley showed the pair a room he had recently completed at his property, though it’s not clear the room is the same one as the one authorities referred to.

After a few minutes of talking, Worley invited the pair into his barn to see a motorcycle he was working on, Peluso tells PEOPLE. She says the barn, which was messy the year before, was extremely tidy.

During their search of his property, authorities discovered an allegedly secret“room” Worley kept on his property that had bloody walls, a bloody freezer and restraints, allegedly “for holding human against their will,” according to police documents obtained by PEOPLE.

Peluso says Worley showed the pair a room he had recently completed at his property, though it’s not clear the room is the same one as the one authorities referred to.

“I didn’t see any [blood and restraints] but it was just another thing that was odd: How it went from being a disaster to it becoming immaculate, like, what drove him to do that?” Peluso says.

Worley pleaded guilty to abduction in a 1990 case also involving a female cyclist, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE. According to a search warrant affidavit, police believe Worley may be a “serial offender.”

“Worley fits the profile of a serial offender and could potentially have additional victims who could have been kept at [his property],” a sheriff’s sergeant wrote in the affidavit. That affidavit sought to recover a wide range of possessions from Worley’s property, including alleged “documents in reference to prior criminal acts, evidence of prior abductions, instruments of sexual deviation, journals” and more.

‘I Had this Gut Feeling’

Peluso, who has lived in her home in the same town as Worley for 12 years, says she was unaware of Worley’s criminal history when she went to visit him but still felt uncomfortable.

“I was kind of scared,” she tells PEOPLE. “I had this gut feeling. There was something about him that made me think he was strange.”

Peluso and other neighbors describe Worley as a quiet man who could often be seen mowing his lawn or working in his barn. Peluso says on the day she saw him, he expressed concern over growing medical bills for his mother, who he said was 99 and lived with him.

Worley served three years in prison for the 1990 the abduction conviction before being released on parole in 1993, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

In a letter to a judge asking for his release from prison, Worley explains how his mother depends on his income.

“I don’t like to admit that I and my family are poor,” Worley writes in the 32-page letter, which was obtained by PEOPLE. “But we have always worked hard and earned everything we have ever done. My family and myself are good, decent and very honest people!”

During their conversation, Worley allegedly asked Peluso a lot of questions about who she knew from town. “It seems like he knew everybody around here but no one knew anything about him,” Peluso says.

Worley is being held without bond and has not yet entered a plea. His attorney, Mark Powers, has not responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Worley will next appear in court on Aug. 18.