HOUSTON (FOX 26)
“In 1997, when Laura went missing, we prayed so hard for her to be brought back to our dinner table,” said Gaye Smither, Laura’s mother. That prayer wasn’t answered.
But it would be William Reece, the man now charged in the murder of Laura Smither, who would help the girl's mother end a 19-year search for justice.
“Our prayers weren’t answered the way we wanted,” said Smither. “But our prayers were answered -- Laura was found.”
The first big break came during the winter of 2015 when Reece reportedly showed investigators where he buried Jessica Cain’s body. Her family and friends were finally able to pay their respects to her at a visitation service held in Liberty on April 23.
From there, investigators say Reece took them to a site in Brazoria County where the remains of Kelli Cox were found.
“His participation was essential,” said Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady.
Investigators won’t say why Reece decided to talk or give specifics about what he said.
“As prosecutors, it’s our responsibility to protect his right to a fair trial,” said Roady. “So unfortunately, I can’t disclose that at this point.”
After the bodies of Cain and Cox were found, the Texas Rangers and Friendswood police started looking at Reece in the death of Laura Smither.
“We always thought we knew who killed Laura and now we know with a greater degree of certainty.” said Laura’s father, Bob Smither.
Reece has been behind bars since 1997 serving a 60-year sentence for an aggravated kidnapping case.
“So we knew he didn’t have access to hurt or harm anyone else,” said Gaye Smither.
Laura’s mother says she would like to speak with Reece someday.
“I would like to discuss my faith with him,” said Gaye Smither. “He was created like every one of us -- he’s a child of God, a very broken child of God.”
And God will forgive Reece, said Smither, if he seeks redemption. She has already forgiven the man accused of killing her little girl.
“I have forgiven him and I would like to tell him that to let him know that he can change his life,” added Gaye.
Investigators say they are not ruling out the possibility that Reece could be responsible for even more murders.
He is currently in jail in Oklahoma awaiting his murder trial in the death of Tiffany Johnston. After that, he will come to Galveston County to stand trial for the Cain and Smither murders.
Authorities in Denton County have not filed murder charges in the Kelli Cox case.