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Closure for the families of Jessica Cain, Kelli Cox may come soon

Photo: HOGP

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William Lewis Reece, 56, is serving a 60-year sentence for a 1997 kidnapping. Authorities have long suspected him in a series of crimes from that same year.

William Lewis Reece, 56, is serving a 60-year sentence for a 1997 kidnapping. Authorities have long suspected him in a series of crimes from that same year.

Photo: HOGP

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Reece grew up in Oklahoma and was a 28-year-old truck driver when he was convicted of kidnapping and assaulting his first known victim, in 1987. The woman, a University of Oklahoma freshman, managed to escape after persuading him to let her use the restroom. less
Reece grew up in Oklahoma and was a 28-year-old truck driver when he was convicted of kidnapping and assaulting his first known victim, in 1987. The woman, a University of Oklahoma freshman, managed to escape … more

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While out on bond awaiting trial for the attack, Reece struck again – meeting another young woman at an Oklahoma bar, following her home and raping her.

While out on bond awaiting trial for the attack, Reece struck again – meeting another young woman at an Oklahoma bar, following her home and raping her.

Photo: Steve Gonzales, Houston Chronicle

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He spent almost the next 10 years in prison for the crimes against both women before being released on Oct. 5, 1996, records show.

He spent almost the next 10 years in prison for the crimes against both women before being released on Oct. 5, 1996, records show.

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Authorities have sought to connect Reece to several attacks that happened in the year following his release from prison. Those cases became linked to the “Texas Killing Fields,” a stretch along busy Interstate 45 where more than 20 girls and women died mysteriously over three decades. less
Authorities have sought to connect Reece to several attacks that happened in the year following his release from prison. Those cases became linked to the “Texas Killing Fields,” a stretch along busy … more

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Police identified Reece as the “prime suspect” in the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Laura Smither, but he was never charged. Smither disappeared while jogging on April 3, 1997, in her quiet Friendswood neighborhood, not far off the interstate. Her body was found more than two weeks later about 12 miles from her home, in a Pasadena retention pond. less
Police identified Reece as the “prime suspect” in the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Laura Smither, but he was never charged. Smither disappeared while jogging on April 3, 1997, in her quiet … more

Photo: Associated Press File

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In May of that year, Reece abducted 19-year-old Sandra Sapaugh, who had stopped to fix a flat tire. She later testified that he put a knife to her throat and forced her into his truck, but she escaped by leaping from the vehicle as they were driving on I-45. That case led to the prison term he’s now serving.

But Reece wasn’t arrested until five months after that crime.

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In May of that year, Reece abducted 19-year-old Sandra Sapaugh, who had stopped to fix a flat tire. She later testified that he put a knife to her throat and forced her into his truck, but she escaped by

… more

Photo: Steve Gonzales

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He is named a “person of interest” in the July 15, 1997, disappearance of Kelli Cox, a University of North Texas honor student who went missing after a tour of the Denton jail with her criminology class. The 20-year-old had telephoned her boyfriend that she’d accidentally left her purse and keys locked in her car, but when he arrived to help, she was gone. Cox, the mother of a 19-month-old daughter, has never been seen again. less
He is named a “person of interest” in the July 15, 1997, disappearance of Kelli Cox, a University of North Texas honor student who went missing after a tour of the Denton jail with her criminology class. … more

Photo: Norm Gomlak

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On July 26, 19-year-old Tiffany Johnson was raped and murdered after being abducted from the Sunshine Car Wash in Bethany, Okla. Advances in DNA testing connected Reece last year to Johnson’s death.

On July 26, 19-year-old Tiffany Johnson was raped and murdered after being abducted from the Sunshine Car Wash in Bethany, Okla. Advances in DNA testing connected Reece last year to Johnson’s death.

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Jessica Cain, a 17-year-old senior at a Catholic preparatory school, vanished on Aug. 17, 1997. She had celebrated her performance in a high school musical with a cast party at a Clear Lake restaurant and was supposed to be driving home to Galveston County. Her truck, with her purse locked inside, was found on the shoulder of I-45. less
Jessica Cain, a 17-year-old senior at a Catholic preparatory school, vanished on Aug. 17, 1997. She had celebrated her performance in a high school musical with a cast party at a Clear Lake restaurant and was … more

Photo: Courtesy

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Recently, human remains were found in a pasture near Hobby Airport and in a Brazoria County field. Forensics experts will try to confirm that they are Cain’s and Cox’s, respectively.

Recently, human remains were found in a pasture near Hobby Airport and in a Brazoria County field. Forensics experts will try to confirm that they are Cain’s and Cox’s, respectively.

Photo: James Nielsen, Houston Chronicle

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Continue clicking to see scenes from the dig sites where human remains have been found.

Continue clicking to see scenes from the dig sites where human remains have been found.

Photo: Steve Gonzales, Houston Chronicle

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Houston Chronicle Reporter Monica Rhor works the scene where possible human remains have been found at a dig site in Brazoria County where authorities have been searching for clues in the disappearance Kelli Cox Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Rosharon, Tx. less
Houston Chronicle Reporter Monica Rhor works the scene where possible human remains have been found at a dig site in Brazoria County where authorities have been searching for clues in the disappearance Kelli … more

Photo: Steve Gonzales, Houston Chronicle

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Authorities search for body of Jessica Cain in the 6100 of East Orem Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Authorities search for body of Jessica Cain in the 6100 of East Orem Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Photo: James Nielsen, Staff

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Stephanie Hardy James, a childhood friend of Jessica Cain, puts flowers along a fence where authorities are looking for Cain’s remains, Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in Houston. Cain disappeared in 1997. “When I found out they had a lead, there’s nothing stopping me from coming every day,” James said. “[She was] the sweetest person I ever knew.” less
Stephanie Hardy James, a childhood friend of Jessica Cain, puts flowers along a fence where authorities are looking for Cain’s remains, Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in Houston. Cain disappeared in 1997. “When I … more

Photo: Jon Shapley, Houston Chronicle

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Searchers dig in a field for the remains of Jessica Cain, a teenager missing since 1997, in the 6100 block of E. Orem Dr., Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston.

Searchers dig in a field for the remains of Jessica Cain, a teenager missing since 1997, in the 6100 block of E. Orem Dr., Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston.

Photo: James Nielsen, James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle

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Searchers dig for the remains of Jessica Cain in the 6100 block of E. Orem Dr. Friday, March 4, 2016, in Houston. Cain disappeared in 1997, and Cain’s accused kidnapper, William Reece, has been at the site with authorities. ( Jon Shapley / Houston Chronicle ) less
Searchers dig for the remains of Jessica Cain in the 6100 block of E. Orem Dr. Friday, March 4, 2016, in Houston. Cain disappeared in 1997, and Cain’s accused kidnapper, William Reece, has been at the site with … more

Photo: Jon Shapley, Houston Chronicle

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Searchers dig in a field for the remains of Jessica Cain, a teenager missing since 1997, in the 6100 block of E. Orem Dr., Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston.

Searchers dig in a field for the remains of Jessica Cain, a teenager missing since 1997, in the 6100 block of E. Orem Dr., Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston.

Photo: James Nielsen, James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle

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Richard Martinez with the Houston Police Department Homicide Division speaks with reporters during the search for body of Jessica Cain in the 6100 of East Orem Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston.

Richard Martinez with the Houston Police Department Homicide Division speaks with reporters during the search for body of Jessica Cain in the 6100 of East Orem Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston.

Photo: James Nielsen, Houston Chronicle

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Authorities search for body of Jessica Cain in the 6100 of East Orem Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston.

Authorities search for body of Jessica Cain in the 6100 of East Orem Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston.

Photo: James Nielsen, Houston Chronicle

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Searchers dig in a field for the remains of Jessica Cain, a teenager missing since 1997, in the 6100 block of E. Orem Dr., Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in Houston. ( Jon Shapley / Houston Chronicle )

Searchers dig in a field for the remains of Jessica Cain, a teenager missing since 1997, in the 6100 block of E. Orem Dr., Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in Houston. ( Jon Shapley / Houston Chronicle )

Photo: Jon Shapley, Houston Chronicle

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Authorities search for body of Jessica Cain in the 6100 of East Orem Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston.

Authorities search for body of Jessica Cain in the 6100 of East Orem Friday, March 18, 2016, in Houston.

Photo: James Nielsen, Houston Chronicle

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C.H. Cain and his wife, Suzy Cain, release a dove in memory of their daughter, Jessica Cain, during a tribute site dedication at Highland Bayou Park in 2012, in La Marque.

C.H. Cain and his wife, Suzy Cain, release a dove in memory of their daughter, Jessica Cain, during a tribute site dedication at Highland Bayou Park in 2012, in La Marque.

Photo: Cody Duty, Staff

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A mourner holds a pamphlet in honor of Jessica Cain during a vigil at Highland Bayou Park Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in La Marque. Seventeen- year-old Jessica Cain disappeared August 17, 1997 after leaving a dinner with friends at a restaurant near Baybrook Mall. less
A mourner holds a pamphlet in honor of Jessica Cain during a vigil at Highland Bayou Park Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in La Marque. Seventeen- year-old Jessica Cain disappeared August 17, 1997 after leaving a … more

Photo: Cody Duty, Houston Chronicle

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Marley Lindsey, 4, stands with her mother, Alyssa Vassallo, during a candle light vigil in honor of Jessica Cain at Highland Bayou Park Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in La Marque. Seventeen- year-old Jessica Cain disappeared August 17, 1997 after leaving a dinner with friends at a restaurant near Baybrook Mall. less
Marley Lindsey, 4, stands with her mother, Alyssa Vassallo, during a candle light vigil in honor of Jessica Cain at Highland Bayou Park Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in La Marque. Seventeen- year-old Jessica Cain … more

Photo: Cody Duty, Houston Chronicle

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The Outlets at Conroe shopping mall, collaborating with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, hosts Thursday various events relating to National Missing Children’s Day. A photo of Jessica Cain, missing from the Clear Lake area, is among the more than 100 images of those missing projected in a rolling rotation on the center’s display along I-45. Additionally, an aerial ambulance helicopter flew-in and Officer Roy Dupuy with the Conroe Police Dept provided fingerprinting for children. Thursday, May 22, 2008, in Conroe. ( Steve Ueckert / Chronicle ) less
The Outlets at Conroe shopping mall, collaborating with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, hosts Thursday various events relating to National Missing Children’s Day. A photo of Jessica … more

Photo: Steve Ueckert, Houston Chronicle

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Alicia O’Neill and Michelle Profitt both pray for the return of their good friend Jessica Cain at a vigil honoring Cain who went missing 10 years ago in Webster after her truck was found abandon on the side of the road. Crime stoppers asks anyone with information about the case to please call 713-222-TIPS. less
Alicia O’Neill and Michelle Profitt both pray for the return of their good friend Jessica Cain at a vigil honoring Cain who went missing 10 years ago in Webster after her truck was found abandon on the side of … more

Photo: Kim Christensen, For The Chronicle

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