William Reece serial killings: Plea deal close for murders of Laura Smither and Kelli Cox

Jessica Willey Image
Friday, June 17, 2022
William Reece nears plea deal in murders of woman, girl, ABC13 learns
Reece, a confessed serial killer already on Oklahoma death row, could plead guilty next week to the murders of 12-year-old Laura Smither and 20-year-old Kelli Cox.

A major development is in the works in the Houston-area murder cases filed against confessed serial killer William Reece that may end 25 years of uncertainty for three Texas families.

People close to the cases tell ABC13 that there are significant court settings scheduled for next week in both Galveston and Brazoria counties.

Reece's attorney, Anthony Osso, downplayed the development, saying, "not all is resolved" and "we are still working toward plea deals."

Reece was indicted in 2016 for the murders of Laura Smither, 12, of Friendswood; Jessica Cain, 20, of Tiki Island; and Kelli Cox, 17, of Denton, after a confession and a deal that if he led investigators to the bodies of Cain and Cox, he would not face the death penalty in Texas.

All the victims were kidnapped and murdered in 1997. Smither's remains had already been found.

Meantime, DNA linked Reece to the murder of Tiffany Johnston in Oklahoma. She was also murdered in 1997. Reece was already serving a 60-year sentence for kidnapping in Texas.

SEE ALSO: Accused serial killer with ties to Houston found guilty in Oklahoma teen's kidnapping and murder

In 2016, Reece was moved to Oklahoma City to stand trial for Johnston's murder. He was convicted in May 2021 and sentenced to death in August. Under an extradition agreement, he was required to return to Texas to face murder charges. In March, he was transported back to Galveston County.

SEE MORE: Accused serial killer returns to Friendswood to face charges

Jan Bynum, the mother of Kelli Cox, said she is "on board with a plea agreement" after numerous conversations with prosecutors. Gay Smither, Laura's mother, told ABC13 that it looks like they will finally get justice.

"The District Attorney's Office is unable to discuss any details of William Reece's cases because they are pending," said Brent Haynes, assistant criminal district attorney with the Galveston County District Attorney's Office.

Tracking the Devil: the William Reece Confessions

Laura Smither, Jessica Cain, Kelli Cox and Tiffany Johnston vanished in 1997. For almost two decades, their families searched for answers - until suspected serial killer William Reece was finally charged in their murders. Hear Reece's chilling confessions and learn about the families' long path to justice in the ABC13 Original 'Tracking the Devil'.

EXCLUSIVE: Woman says she was kidnapped by William Reece speaks out for first time

Anjanette Sorrentino speaks about her kidnapping for the first time, Marla Carter reports.

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