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Serial killer William Reece pleads guilty to murder while suffering from a common cold

A serial killer already on death row in Oklahoma pleaded guilty to three murders in Texas on Wednesday and was sentenced to life in prison.

William Lewis Reece, 62, pleaded guilty for the first time in a Galveston courtroom to the 1997 murders of 12-year-old Laura Smither and 17-year-old Jessica Cain.

He was then transferred to nearby Angleton to plead guilty to the disappearance and murder of 20-year-old Kelli Cox.

In each of the three cases, Reece received a life sentence, which he cannot appeal.

“Twenty-five years is an awfully long time to wait for justice, and there were a number of years that we really didn’t think we would ever see that day,” Laura Smither’s mother, Gay Smither, said, according to KPRC.

Reece was serving a 60-year sentence in 2016 for the 1998 kidnapping of Sandra Sapaugh in Texas, when he began helping the investigations into the other cases.

Laura Smither, 12, was found murdered in south Houston in April 1997, two weeks after she failed to return from a morning jog.
Laura Smither, 12, was found murdered in south Houston in April 1997, two weeks after she failed to return from a morning jog.
family handout
Kelli Cox, a 20-year-old college student, was last seen alive in July 1997 in Denton, Texas.
Kelli Cox, a 20-year-old college student, was last seen alive in July 1997 in Denton, Texas.
family handout
In August 1997, Jessica Cain, 17, went to a party and never came home.
In August 1997, Jessica Cain, 17, went to a party and never came home.
family handout

In 2021, he was sentenced to death for the 1997 killing of 19-year-old Tiffany Johnson in Oklahoma City.

Reece carried out the Texas and Oklahoma killing spree over a five-month period in 1997 after already serving 10 years in Oklahoma State Penitentiary for raping two women.

Smither did not return from a morning jog in Friendswood in April 1997. Her remains were found more than two weeks later about 30 miles away in a retention pond in south Houston.

On July 15, 1997, Kelli Cox, a 20-year-old criminology student at the University of North Texas, was walking out of a tour of a Denton prison when she discovered she had locked her keys in her car, Fox 26 reported.

Cox went to a nearby gas station to call her boyfriend. She was never seen alive again and left behind a young daughter.

Just two weeks later, Tiffany Johnston, a 19-year-old newlywed, was kidnapped from a car wash in Bethany, Oklahoma. Her body was discovered the following day in a Yukon field. She had been raped and strangled.

In August 1997, Jessica Cain went to a party to celebrate her performance in a high school musical. Her truck was later found abandoned near her home on Tiki Island, Texas.

In October of that year, Reece was arrested for aggravated kidnapping of Sapaugh. For this crime he was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 1998.

While he was serving his sentence in Texas, investigators in Oklahoma linked Reece to and framed Johnston’s rape and murder in the case.

Hoping for a lighter sentence, Reece began speaking to authorities and confessed to the Texas murders after receiving a promise from a ranger that prosecutors would not seek the death penalty.

Reece is on death row in Oklahoma for the murder of 19-year-old Tiffany Johnson.
Reece is on death row in Oklahoma for the murder of 19-year-old Tiffany Johnson.
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In the spring of 2016, Reece led police to the remains of Cain in a pasture in south Houston and the remains of Cox in rural Brazoria County.

In court on Wednesday, some of the victims’ relatives made emotional statements describing the pain of their loss.

Gay Smither, Laura’s mother, thanked her daughter’s killer for telling the truth about what happened and told him she had forgiven him after suffering in “a prison of anger and fury.”

Reece, who arrived in a Texas court on Wednesday, was sentenced to life in prison.
Reece will appear in court in Texas on June 29, 2022.
AP
Reece had gone on the 5-month homicidal rampage in 1997 after previously serving 10 years for raping two women.
Reece went on the five-month homicidal rampage in 1997 after serving ten years for raping two women.
AP

Alexis Bynum, Cox’s daughter, was just 19 months old when her mother was murdered. She said she spent years searching for her missing mother.

“At the end of the day, we can close the chapter on that part of it and not have to worry about it hurting anyone else,” Bynum said.

With postal wires

https://nypost.com/2022/06/30/serial-killer-william-reece-pleads-guilty-to-cold-case-murders/ Serial killer William Reece pleads guilty to murder while suffering from a common cold

JACLYN DIAZ

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