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Four years later: Honoring Sierah Joughin's legacy

On July 19, 2016, Sierah Joughin, 20, went missing while out on a bicycle ride on County Road 6 in Fulton County.

LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — Four years ago today, 20-year-old Sierah Joughin's body was discovered in a shallow grave in a field in Fulton County. 

She disappeared three days prior while on a bicycle ride on County Road 6. The grave was not far from where she was taken.  

James Worley was convicted for her abduction and murder. However, a long appeals process delayed his execution in 2019. 

Joughin is remembered for her light and energy.

"What we at Justice for Sierah and my family really want is to make sure that she's remembered not for the tragic way she was taken but for all of the amazing things that have happened because of her life," said Tara Ice, Sierah's Aunt and President of Justice for Sierah Inc.

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Justice for Sierah, Inc. is a non-profit organization working to protect communities by implementing the Ohio violent offender registry, known as Sierah's Law, in all 50 states.   

Another way the nonprofit honors her life is through the formation of the Sierah Strong curriculum. Its goal is to educate and empower children with safety skills and techniques that will be taught in schools each year. 

Ice said it's still in the works in Lucas County.

"We are using this time that we're at home to really work on the lesson plans and revising and editing. Our hope is to have a pilot into a couple of schools this year," she said.

Another program is the Spirit of Sierah Run and Walk which is a race held each October to raise funds for the curriculum. 

This year because of COVID-19, Ice says it be a virtual 5K. 

"We are thinking of a month-long event with possible different kind of activities that will happen within that month. Everyone can do the race and run on their own time and still have fun and support our mission," she said.

The family is also working with the University of Toledo to develop a scholarship in her honor as well. 

James Worley's attorneys filed an update with the Ohio Supreme Court last week that asks the court to overturn his death sentence and grant him a new trial.

His attorneys claim there was not enough evidence in his trial to find him guilty of the abduction and murder of Joughin.

RELATED: James Worley's attorneys seek to have death sentence overturned and request new trial

Ice said the family is disheartened by the request as well as his attorneys' reasons for wanting the verdict overturned. 

On the four-year anniversary of the discovery of her body, Ice wants the focus to remain on Sierah and her legacy of helping others. She imagines if she were still alive, she'd be living her life to the fullest. 

Worley's home was awarded to the Joughin family estate in a settlement in July 2018. His barn was demolished. 

Ice said her family is weighing options as far as what will go on the site, including a park or a community center to hold events, weddings or parties. 

The move will hopefully remove the negative as well as bring some positive light and energy back to the community.

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