Accused serial killer William Lewis Reece has been found guilty of murder for the first time since a series of young girls were murdered in Texas and Oklahoma in 1997.
It took an Oklahoma County jury less than 2 hours to find Reece guilty of murdering Tiffany Johnston in the town of Bethany.
The case remains unsolved until Reece was charged with the crime in 2015 after DNA linked him to Johnston’s body and a phone card linked him to the area where she disappeared.
Jurors in Johnston’s case heard testimony regarding Reece’s involvement in three other murders and a kidnapping. After serving time in an Oklahoma prison for rape, Reece headed to Texas in 1997. In April of that year, Laura Smither disappeared from her Friendswood neighborhood. Her body was found a few weeks later near Pasadena.
In July of 1997, Kelli Ann Cox disappeared from Denton and was not found. Johnston disappeared the same month and was found the following day. In August 1997, Jessica Cain disappeared while driving to her Galveston County home of Tiki Island and was not found.
In September, Sandra Sapaugh was kidnapped in Webster but escaped. Her testimony helped land Reece in prison for 60 years.
While serving that sentence, Reece was charged with Johnston’s murder. He then began talking with investigators and hoping to cut a deal. In 2016, Reece finally lead investigators to where he buried Cain’s body in southeast Houston. He also led detectives to where he buried Cox’s body in Brazoria County. In exchange for not receiving the death penalty, Reece admitted to his involvement in the murders and was finally charged with those crimes in 2016.
Reece was then sent to Oklahoma to face trial for Johnston’s murder.
The Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office intends to seek the death and the punishment phase of the trial is expected to begin on Tuesday. Reece showed no emotion when the verdict was read and did not testify in his own defense.
For previous reporting on the cases Reece is believed to be connected to, including a timeline, click here.