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Crime News Breaking News

Suspected Serial Killer Going To Texas To Face Three Murder Charges, Including For 12-Year-Old

William Lewis Reece is being transported to Texas to face charges for the murders of Jessica Cain, Laura Smither and Kelli Cox.

By Gina Tron
Suspected Serial Killer Returning To Texas To Face Charges

A suspected serial killer and rapist who has already been sentenced to death for one of the four murders to which he’s been linked is being returned to Texas to face charges in the other three.

William Lewis Reece, 62, is being transported from Oklahoma to Texas, where he is accused of murdering a woman and two girls in 1997, KTRK reports.

The suspected serial killer was charged in Galveston County in 2016 with the 1997 kidnapping and killing of two girls — 17-year-old Jessica Cain and 12-year-old Laura Smither — to whose murders he allegedly confessed. Reece also allegedly confessed to killing 20-year-old Kelli Cox, a student at the University of North Texas, the same year. 

Prior to 2016, Reece had been serving a 60-year prison sentence in Texas for the kidnapping of Sandra Sapaugh, whom he abducted at knifepoint in May 1997 while she was pregnant. She escaped by jumping out of Reece's truck while he was driving on a Texas highway, Tulsa CBS affiliate KOTV reported. He was convicted in that case in 1998.

William Lewis Reece Ap

Reece reportedly led police to the then-undiscovered remains of Cain and Cox in 2016 after DNA connected him to the 1997 murder of Tiffany Johnston, 19. He apparently confessed to all four murders hoping that, in turn, prosecutors wouldn't seek the death penalty.  

After his confessions, he was transferred to Oklahoma to stand trial for the murder of 19-year-old Johnston, the daughter of Reece's mother's best friend. She was killed after Reece kidnapped her from a car wash.

At his trial, Sapaugh and another women — who was a teenager and with a friend when Reece allegedly abducted both from a Texas mall and assaulted them in July 1997 — testified for the prosecution, KOTV reported.

Reece had previously been convicted of kidnapping and raping one woman in 1986, and raping another woman while he was out on bail in the first case, the Dallas Morning News reported. He was convicted in both cases and sentenced to 25 years, but served only 10 and was released in October 1996.

He then allegedly kidnapped and killed Laura Smither on April 3, 1997; kidnapped Sandra Sapaugh on May 16; allegedly raped a 20-year-old woman in her home in May, in whose assault he has not been charged, according to Oklahoma City NBC affiliate KFOR; allegedly kidnapped and assaulted the two teenagers in whose cases he has not been charged on July 3; allegedly kidnapped and killed Kelli Cox on July 15; kidnapped and killed Tiffany Johnston on July 26; and allegedly kidnapped and killed Jessica Cain on August 17.

Reece was finally arrested in Sapaugh's case in the fall of 1997 and has been in jail ever since.

He was convicted in June 2021 of both first-degree murder and kidnapping for Johnston's slaying and sentence to death.

The Galveston County District Attorney's Office is working closely with the Brazoria County District Attorney's Office, and both intend to vigorously prosecute Reece and hold him accountable under the law,” Galveston County Criminal District Attorney Jack Roady said in a statement. 

No hearings have been formally set, but at least one victim’s relative has expressed some comfort in the fact that he will soon be facing charges.

"We're very glad he's back to face charges," Gay Smither, the mother of Laura Smither, told KTRK this week.