TEXAS CITY, Texas — He's an FBI agent who had a front-row seat to some of the Houston area's biggest murders. Now, he's set to retire this month after 31 years in law enforcement. Senior Supervisory Special Agent Richard Rennison spoke exclusively to KHOU 11's Grace White about the cases he's helped solve and the one that still haunts him.
Unlike most agents, many of Rennison's cases he knew from his time as a League City police officer.
It was April of 1997 when Laura Smither went missing
Jessica Cain disappeared the same year.
“I was assigned to a narcotics task force here in the county and we stopped all narcotics stuff to become searchers for both cases," Rennison said.
Smither's body was found, but Cain's wasn't until 2016 when suspected serial killer William Reece led Rennison to a field near Hobby Airport.
“We didn’t know if he was lying to us or just trying to get out of prison but all of us involved were pretty sure he was telling the truth," Rennison said.
Reece was telling the truth and authorities found Cain's body. He was later convicted of three murders in Texas and one in Oklahoma.
But there's still one case that's unsolved that Rennison said still keeps him up at night: The Killing Fields in League City.
“I speak with Tim Miller regularly, and for a man who's done so much good for so many people, it would sure be nice to get him some closure as well as the other three victims," he said.
Miller is the founder of Texas EquuSearch. His daughter Laura was one of the girls who was murdered. The others were Heidi Fye and two girls who were later identified using forensic genealogy.
“When we sat down with League City to start working, it was 45 minutes and we had Donna Gonsoulin (Prudhomme) identified, and that was towards the end of the day. So the next day, it took one hour to get Audrey Lee Cook identified,” he said.
But of all Rennison's cases, by far the toughest emotionally was the shooting on May 18, 2018, at Santa Fe High School. Five years later, it's still hard for him to find words. Rennison was the FBI's lead agent on the investigation.
“I went over to the high school and I was there about 7:50 a.m. and he was in custody at 8 o'clock. So I got there when there was still a lot of lot of action. Definitely the worst day of my career," he said.
The relationships he's built have been what's gotten him through the tough times.
“I 100% will remain friends with everybody," Rennison said.
That includes not just fellow investigators, but victims and their families Rennison still talks to. All of those people have shaped him and helped him prepare for retirement in their own way.
“I'm a lot more patient now than I was. I used to say, 'OK, let's get it done. It's got to be done. It's got to be done right now.' I think I've learned the subtle art of patience," he said.