HOUSTON - Nineteen years after her disappearance, family and friends of Jessica Cain finally have their answer. Harris County confirmed Friday remains found in a southeast Houston field are those of Cain's.
“We are relieved at the news that Jessica has been found,” Galveston County Criminal District Attorney Jack Roady said. “But while this news brings confirmation, it also brings new sorrow to Jessica’s family, friends and those in law enforcement who have mourned her loss. We ask that everyone be respectful of her family and friends’ need for privacy during this time of grieving.”
There was quick and heartfelt reaction on social media. On Facebook page dedicated to prayers for Jessica one person wrote "Prayers for her family. No parent should ever get this news. Keep her family in all prayers. God sure does have an angel."
And in another post a follower wrote "Although our hearts are broken with the confirmed news, the comfort is found in knowing that Jessica has been with her Heavenly Father all these years."
Tim Miller with Texas Equusearch assisted in the search for Jessica's remains.
"I was there the day she disappeared on the original search," he reminds us.
Miller says this is not the news her family wanted to hear -- but not knowing is usually worse.
"They now have the opportunity to go through that grieving process," Miller says. And realize that Jessica's not coming back and get into that healing process."
Cain disappeared in 1997; her truck found abandoned on the side of I-45 near the exit to her home. Her case remained unsolved until detectives began searching a southeast Houston field in February of this year. After nearly three weeks of searching, skeletal remains were found.
The man who led investigators to the site is William Reece, who has been the prime suspect in Cain's disappearance. A handcuffed Reece was spotted in the field over the few weeks the search took place, walking around with investigators.
After Cain’s remains were found in southeast Houston, Reece led investigators to a field in Brazoria County near Angleton. After a week of digging, investigators found what were later identified as the remains of Kelli Ann Cox.
Cox disappeared from the town of Denton in 1997.
Even before these recent developments, Reece was considered the prime suspect in the kidnapping and murder of Laura Smither. Smither disappeared while jogging near her Friendswood home in 1997. Smither’s body was found three weeks later.
Reece was also charged in September with the 1997 kidnapping and murder of Tiffany Johnston near Oklahoma City. Reece was long considered a suspect in that case too, but it wasn’t until police were able to analyze DNA evidence that charges were filed.
Reece has been in a Texas prison since 1998. He was convicted of kidnapping Sandra Sapaugh in Webster and sentenced to 60 years in prison. Sapaugh escaped from Reece by jumping out of this truck.
Reece began cooperating with police and Texas Rangers in February, following the charges being filed in Oklahoma. Reece’s attorney, Anthony Osso, explained poor health was one of the reasons his client began talking with investigators.
“He had concerns about his health. You know, he's not in the best physical health. Medically, he has a heart condition. He's had one surgery already and had a stent inserted. He's not interested in a second surgery. So he knows his life expectancy in prison is not that long,” said Osso. “There's a few factors that come into play. His health, closure for the families. I think he wants to get this off his chest.”
Osso stopped short of saying Reece confessed to these crimes, but said he continues to cooperate with investigators and is willing to “accept responsibility.”
Osso also said Reece wants to remain in a Texas prison.
“What our objective is at this point is to keep Mr. Reece off death row. Hopefully both in Oklahoma and Texas, and that's one of the reasons he's cooperating,” Osso said.
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