After 24 years, 4 murders and one kidnapping, William Reece is sentenced to death

William Reece found guilt of murder, convicted by Oklahoma jury
William Reece found guilt of murder, convicted by Oklahoma jury

OKLAHOMA – An Oklahoma jury sentenced accused serial killer, William Lewis Reece, to death for the 1997 murder of Tiffany Johnston. The jury deliberated for one hour and 45 minutes before reaching their decision.

In addition to Johnston’s murder, Reece is also charged with the Texas murders of Laura Smither, Jessica Cain and Kelli Ann Cox. All four murders took place in 1997, but it took nearly 20 years to gather the evidence needed to charge Reece.

Several hours of Reece’s confession to a Texas Ranger were played for the jury. Those recordings provided details about all the girls’ murders. Laura Smither’s mother, Gay Smither, traveled to Oklahoma for the trial.

“I heard a lot of details I was not expecting, but I’m glad to know them now.,” she said. “In many ways it was a trial for Tiffany, but it was a trial for all the Texas girls as well and I’m really glad I was here for it.”

Reece was convicted in 1998 of kidnapping Sandra Sapaugh in Webster and sentenced to 60 years in prison. In 2015, Oklahoma officials used DNA to link Reece to Johnston’s body and a calling card put him the area where she disappeared. After he was charged in Oklahoma, Reece looked to cut a deal and started talking about the Texas murders. Laura Smither was found a few weeks after she disappeared from her Friendswood neighborhood, but Cain’s and Cox’s bodies were not found until 2016.

Cain disappeared while driving to her Tiki Island home in Galveston County and Reece led detectives to her body in a field in southeast Houston. Cox disappeared from Denton and Reece led detectives to her body in Brazoria County. Reece was charged with Smither and Cain’s murders in Galveston County and Cox’s murder in Brazoria County.

“I’m grateful for the jury’s verdict and that justice has been done,” said Galveston District Attorney Jack Roady.

Roady said he’ll make a decision whether to proceed with Smither’s and Cain’s murder cases after the Oklahoma proceedings are finished and he’s had a chance to discuss the matter with the families.