At the prompting of William Reece, a suspected serial killer, investigators continue to dig for human remains in Brazoria County.
Reece is a man who has spent half his life locked up for sexual assaults and kidnapping. While court records and police reports detail his crimes, what’s the story behind the Oklahoma native?
Those are answers that true crime novelist Kathryn Casey shed light on.
In what was a unique relationship between novelist and convict, Casey shared some of the many letters that Reece had written to her after a jailhouse interview in 2013.
“I went into the prison and sat down to talk to Bill Reece, which was a fairly disturbing experience,” Casey said. “He is a very cold, very calculating—a very manipulative man. At the same time—at other times, he was laughing and he was charming and he was very much the psychopath.”
Reece’s criminal past stretches back decades. In 1986, he kidnapped his first known victim at the side of an Oklahoma highway.
“He had her perform sexual acts and he duct-taped her and zipped her up into a sleeping bag. She very wisely talked her way out of it,” Casey said. “The odd thing was that once he had done this to her, he talked to her about wanting to marry her.”
That victim was able to escape and Reece was charged, but his crimes didn’t end there.
“While he was under indictment on that case, he crawled in a window at another woman's home after seeing her at a bar and sexually assaulted her,” Casey said.
Reece was sentenced to 25 years in prison but, according to Casey, because of a technicality flaw he only served 10 years and was released in 1996.
Casey says Reece grew up in the country outside Oklahoma City and was part of a fairly well respected middle-class family. His mother, father and sister died during his most recent stint in prison.
“At that point he had a sister and an ex-wife who were both living in the Houston area and Bill Reece relocated to Houston,” Casey said.
A few months later, girls began to disappear. In April 1997, 12-year-old Laura Smither of Friendswood vanished. Her body was later found in a Pasadena pond.
Then months later, on July 15, Kelli Cox from Denton, Texas, disappeared. Authorities are currently digging for her possible remains in a private field in Brazoria County.
Eleven days later, Tiffany Johnston disappeared from Oklahoma—her body was also found. After 18 years, there was a break in the case that connected Reece and he was charged with Johnston’s murder.
“In the Johnson case, they did find semen, which is where they got the DNA,” Casey said.
And then there’s Jessica Cain, the 17-year-old La Marque girl who vanished after attending a theater cast party with friends.
In March of this year, Reece was spotted leading authorities around in a southeast Houston field, telling them where to dig for Cain’s remains. On March 18, remains were found; however, autopsy results are pending to determine if they’re Cain’s remains.
Reece is currently in prison on a kidnapping conviction from 1997. That victim was able to escape. The question many people are asking: Why is Reece helping now?
“My understanding is he does not want to go to Oklahoma where the case is a death penalty case and that he is cooperating now with Texas officials, maybe to forestall that,” Casey said.
Authorities are staying tight lipped about why Reece is talking, but Casey believes it has nothing to do with remorse.
“He is a cold-blooded calculated psychopath and whatever he's doing he's doing for Bill Reece,” she said.