The disappearance of 12-year-old Friendswood girl Laura Smither

ByChris Hanson KTRK logo
Remembering Laura Smither
Remembering Laura Smither

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas (KTRK) -- 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 3, 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.

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Photos of Laura Smither are shown across the community as thousands search for the 12-year old

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 20.

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:

Gay Smither, holds the hand of Suzy Cain, whose daughter Jessica, disappeared

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.

Gay and Bob Smither knew what the Cains were going through. 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.

Story on William Reece, suspected in deaths of Jessica Cain and Laura Smither

Police believe the man responsible for the death of Laura Smither and the disappearance of Jessica Cain is William Reece.

RELATED: Accused serial killer William Reece charged in death of 20-year-old Texas woman