Justice for Sierah: The fight continues to keep our girls safe

FULTON COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - In July 2016, a community was rattled to the core when University of Toledo student Sierah Joughin went missing, following a bike ride in Fulton County.

The 20-year-old was later found dead.

"It's been the toughest thing that we have ever had to go through," said Nikki Kolasinski, Sierah's boyfriend's mom.

"This isn't a bad dream, you know, this is real. And this is the way the rest of our life is going to be," said Sheila Vaculik, Sierah's mom.

"You wake up, and it's the first thing you think about, and it's the last thing you think about when you go to bed," said Mary Kolasinski, Sierah's boyfriend's sister.

Seven months later, family and friends appreciate the community's support. But understandably, it's been a difficult time.

"The nicest person; The kindest person," said Mary.

"She's very adventurous," said Sheila.

"When she walked into a room, and she smiled, it lit up the whole room," said Nikki.

James Worley is accused of kidnapping and killing Sierah. He previously served jail time back in 1990 for kidnapping a woman who escaped his clutches.

"People who commit violent offenses should have to register," said Sheila. "I should have known that a violent offender was five miles from our house."

When Dr. Christine Smallman heard Sierah was missing, she was brought back to a heartbreaking reality.

Smallman says when she was in fourth grade, her classmate's sister, Eileen Adams, was abducted and killed.

That was 50 years ago.

"Since that time, nothing has really changed," said Smallman. "So in a way, I have kinda made it a personal goal to make sure that something changes before the 50th anniversary."

She wants those changes visible in a law: Sierah's Law.

The Community Engagement Coalition, made up of several members including Sierah's mom, is pushing legislators to support Sierah's Law, which would create a violent offender registry in Ohio.

"Somebody has to make the change, so why not me?" said Paula Walters, founder of the Community Engagement Coalition. "In the same aspect that, you know, Sierah was 20, she had decades of life left. So if it takes decades for us to make her life count for something, then that's what we're going to do."

The group met recently to hammer out exactly how the law should read, with Representative Teresa Fedor joining in over the phone.

It won't be an easy fight, as only a handful of states have violent offender registries.

But that's not stopping them.

"If we change the outcome for another family, and they wouldn't have to go through what we went through, then it's worth it," said Kim Smallman, Sierah's mom's best friend and Dr. Christine's daughter. "If it takes two months; if it takes 10 years. It's worth it because, you know, no one, no one should have to go through what we had to go through."

State Senators Randy Gardner and Cliff Hite recently announced they plan to introduce Sierah's Law soon. It has the support of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Sierah and her boyfriend Josh Kolasinski had been together for years. Nikki, Josh's mom, says Josh gave her a promise ring and the couple wanted to get married.

Those dreams were ripped apart when Sierah was taken. Now, Josh has a new dream.

"We're here to make sure this doesn't happen again," said Josh, while waiting for a self-defense class to begin.

Josh, along with his mom, sister and dad started 'Keeping our Girls Safe.'

The group organizes free self-defense classes.

"We shouldn't have to live in fear," said Sierah's mom.

The first class was held on what would have been Sierah's twenty-first birthday.

"I mean there's girls everywhere that walk out of their house and don't think that something like this will happen," said Josh. "It did happen, so I'm trying to make this a good situation and have some good out of this, because I know that's what she would really want."

"She would be here doing this if it were for somebody else," said Nikki. "She would be the first one, 'Let's go, let's do this. We can do this.'"

The next self-defense class organized by Keeping Our Girls Safe is Saturday, Feb. 25. The one after that is March 11. Find more information the group's Facebook page.

Follow WTOL:  

Download our app here

Copyright 2017 WTOL. All rights reserved.