Convicted killer William Reece back in Friendswood to face murder charges

Here's what we know

Convicted killer William Reece was transported back to Friendswood, Texas, on Tuesday.

According to officials with the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office (GCDAO), Reece was picked up by two Friendswood police officers from the Oklahoma County Jail.

Reece was convicted last year of murdering Tiffany Johnston in Bethany, Oklahoma.

He was sentenced to death in that case, but a previously filed extradition request now requires him to return to face murder charges here in Texas.

In a statement to KPRC 2 Investigates, Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady says his office and the Brazoria County District Attorney’s Office “intend to vigorously prosecute Reece and hold him accountable under the law.”

Reece confessed to murdering three Texas women: Laura Smither from Friendswood, Jessica Cain from Tiki Island and Kelli Ann Cox from Denton. All were murdered in the late 1990s.

While Reece remained a prime suspect in these cases, he wasn’t charged with these murders in 2016 when Texas Rangers say he confessed and led detectives to the bodies of Cain who was buried in southeast Houston and Cox who was buried in Brazoria County.

At the time of the confessions, Reece was serving a 60-year prison sentence in Texas for the kidnapping of Sandra Sapaugh in Webster. Sapaugh escaped Reece by jumping out of his truck. Her testimony secured his conviction.

The extradition paperwork filed to bring Reece to Oklahoma also required him to return to face charges in Texas.

“He was picked up this morning in Oklahoma County by detail of seven Friendswood Police officers,” Friendswood Police Chief Robert Wieners said.

Wieners said that the department would be awaiting directions from the DA’s offices in Galveston and Brazoria on further directions for where to take Reece.

Full statement from the Galveston County Criminal District Attorney Jack Roady:

“In accordance with the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act, William Lewis Reece is being transported from Oklahoma to Texas to stand trial for his crimes in Galveston and Brazoria Counties. Reece was indicted in Galveston County for the murders of Laura Kate Smither and Jessica Cain and in Brazoria County for the capital murder of Kelli Cox. The Galveston County District Attorney’s Office is working closely with the Brazoria County District Attorney’s Office, and both intend to vigorously prosecute Reece and hold him accountable under the law.”

Johnston’s mother, Kathy Dobry, who lives in Oklahoma expressed disappointment that Reece has been able to put off justice for this long.

“It’s aggravating because he plays games with all the law enforcement. He knows how to work it,” Dobry said.

She said she will never forgive him for taking away her daughter.

“I want him so that he doesn’t see daylight. I want him to have no communication with anyone, and I would personally like to see him eat bread and water,” Dobry said.

Dobry said her daughter was a loving person who will never be forgotten.

“Tiffany was a very loving person. She was carefree. She would help anyone,” Dobry said.

Sandra Sapaugh
Kelli Ann Cox
Laura Smither
Jessica Cain

For more on the more on case from KPRC 2 Investigates -- who has followed the case for more than 20 years -- watch reporter Robert Arnold’s full video in the player below.

Despite receiving a death sentence in Oklahoma, William Reece is headed back to Friendswood.

Posted by KPRC2 Robert Arnold on Tuesday, March 8, 2022

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About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”