North Texas

Houston Kidnapping Suspect Linked to Denton Cold Case

A man who is cooperating with investigators in Houston is considered a person of interest in the disappearance of a young woman in Denton nearly two decades ago.

William Reece, 56, was considered a person of interest in the disappearance of 20-year-old Kelli Cox, after she vanished from a gas station just blocks from the Denton Police Department, but Cox's mother, Jan Bynum, tells NBC 5 nothing ever came of it.

"At the time of Kelli's disappearance in 1997, it was in those first few months I know his name came up because they connected that he was in the area," Bynum said. "They had already been looking at him for other things, but that he'd been in the area of Denton on I-35 at the time she disappeared."

An FBI agent told the family they were going to search his vehicles for Cox's prints, according to Bynum.

"So I knew they had been looking into that. In my mind it was like 'OK, they didn't do anything at that time,' so they really were past thinking he had any involvement," Bynum said.

Now, detectives have renewed their interest in Reece after he began talking with investigators in Houston. An investigator from the Denton Police Department went to the Houston area for several days on Feb. 15, 2015, according to police.

Reece has since led detectives there to dig in an area in southeast Houston in search of the remains of Jessica Cain, 19, who disappeared in 1997, according to Houston NBC affiliate KPRC.

After days of searching, detectives have found nothing. KPRC reports Reece has been at the site three times since the search began.

According to KPRC, Laura Smither, 12, vanished a few months before Cain. Her body was discovered, but Reece, a suspect in her case, was never charged.

Reece was convicted of kidnapping in the case of Sandra Sapaugh, who managed to escape and testified again him, according to KPRC, and he's currently charged in the kidnapping and killing of Tiffany Johnston, 19, in Oklahoma.

Denton police confirm an investigator went to the Houston area on Feb. 15, for a few days to work with Texas Rangers.

Bynum said she hopes this investigation will lead to answers.

"Answers," Bynum said, "If it's not answers in conjunction with Kelli, I want there to be answers for the Cain family or answers for Smither's family or answers for some family, because I know what they go through, day in and day out. I know."

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