Laura Smither, 12, was the light of her parents' lives. She was a gifted and talented student, scuba diver, ballerina and a Girl Scout. She disappeared in seconds.
The Smithers were making pancakes for breakfast on the morning of April 3rd, 1997, in their Friendswood home. Laura asked her mother if she could go jogging before eating, and her mother, Gay Smither, said yes.
When Laura didn't return from her jog, her parents called the police, and by evening time, authorities and the community mobilized to find the 12-year-old.
Thousands of volunteers handed out flyers and searched nearby fields. Helicopters criss-crossed the sky while mounted patrols from area prisons searched the rural areas around the house.
After weeks of searching with no results, the dreaded news everyone feared came. Laura's body was found in a muddy area near a retention pond in Pasadena, on April 20th.
Laura's memory did not end with the discovery of her body. Her parents founded the Laura Recovery Center in her honor and it wasn't long before her parents would be called to action.
VIDEO: The grieving parents of Laura Smither find the strength to comfort the parents of Jessica Cain, who disappeared months after their daughter was murdered. ABC13 story from 1997:
In August of 1997, Jessica Cain, 17, disappeared after leaving a celebration at a restaurant on the Gulf Freeway. Once again, the Houston community witnessed the disturbing scene of heartbroken parents pleading for the return of their daughter while volunteers canvassed the area for a missing girl.
There was someone who knew what the Cains were going through and that was Gay and Bob Smither. The Smithers stood with Suzy and C.H. Cain as they held news conferences about their daughter, hoping to get information on her whereabouts.
VIDEO: This ABC13 story from 1998 details the link between suspect William Reece and Laura Smither and Jessica Cain.
Police believe the man responsible for the death of Laura Smither and the disappearance of Jessica Cain is William Reece. Reece, who was convicted in a kidnapping case, was recently transferred from prison to an area jail to help authorities discover what they believe are the remains of Jessica, found in a field in southeast Houston. The remains have not yet been identified by the medical examiner's office.
The evidence link between Smither and Reece has grown cold, with no charges filed against Reece in that case.
On this day in 1997, a stunned community rallied in a desperate search for a missing girl