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William Lewis Reece Jury Recommends Death

William Lewis Reece

A jury in Oklahoma has recommended that serial killer William Lewis Reece be sentenced to death. William Lewis Reece who was convicted of abducting a woman from a car wash and later murdering her more than twenty years ago. William Lewis Reece was convicted last week of the 1997 kidnapping and killing of 19-year-old Tiffany Johnston. Just because the jury recommended death there is still a chance that the Judge will sentence him to life in prison without parole, formal sentencing is not til August.

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A jury in Oklahoma has recommended a death sentence for an alleged serial killer who was convicted of kidnapping a woman from a car wash and killing her more than 20 years ago.

The jury on Wednesday recommended the death penalty for William Lewis Reece, who was convicted last week of first-degree murder for the 1997 kidnapping and killing of 19-year-old Tiffany Johnston. Formal sentencing is set for Aug. 19.

Reece did not testify at his trial, but the jury heard recordings of his confessions to police in which he admitted killing Johnston and three other people in Texas, The Oklahoman reported.

Johnston, 20-year-old Kelli Cox, 17-year-old Jessica Cain and 12-year-old Laura Smither all disappeared over a four-month period in 1997, after Reece had been released from an Oklahoma prison for previous rape and kidnapping convictions.

Smither’s body was found shortly after her disappearance, but the remains of Cain and Cox weren’t found until 2016, when Reece began cooperating with prosecutors.

“We’re all so happy that he got the death penalty,” said Johnston’s mother, Kathy Dobry.

“Even though it helped families in Texas … it was for Tiffany,” she said of the verdict. “After 24 years, and 10 months, this is Tiffany’s time.”

Reece’s defense attorney, Jacob Benedict, did not dispute that Reece killed Johnston, but said his client only confessed because a Texas Ranger had promised that prosecutors wouldn’t seek the death penalty.

“A promise he couldn’t keep, but still a promise,” Benedict said.

Gay Smither, the mother of 12-year-old Laura Smither, traveled to Oklahoma for the trial, Houston TV station KPRC reported. Reece still faces charges for her daughter’s death in Texas.

“If we don’t have our day in court in Galveston, we can live with it because he’s at least held accountable here,” she said. “The most important thing is we know now for sure there is absolutely no way this man will ever get out.”

William Reece Sentenced To Death

Admitted serial killer William Lewis Reece had one last opportunity to apologize directly to the family of the newlywed he abducted from a Bethany car wash and strangled to death in 1997.

He stayed silent.

“No,” he said loudly behind a mask when the judge asked him if he wanted to say something.

“There’s an old saying in the law, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied,'” Oklahoma County District Judge Susan Stallings then told him. “Justice will not be delayed any longer in this case. I sentence you to death.”

A jury in June decided Reece, 62, should be executed for the murder of Tiffany Johnston. He showed no emotion as the judge sentenced him Thursday morning.

He will appeal, his defense attorney announced.

He never testified at his trial but jurors heard hours of his confessions to the killing in Oklahoma and three in Texas in 1997. The victims were all females, the youngest 12.

“He’s not sorry,” Johnston’s mother, Kathy Dobry, of Anadarko, said after the 15-minute formal sentencing. “He’s just a serial killer. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself.”

She also said she will never forgive him.

“Never. I’m sorry,” Dobry said. “I believe in God and all that but I will never forgive him. And I’m glad people can. But not this momma.”

Reece began confessing in 2016 from a Texas prison after being linked to the Oklahoma cold case by his DNA. He eventually revealed where in Texas he buried two bodies with bulldozers.

He admitted to first killing Laura Smither, 12, in the Houston suburb of Friendswood. 

Smither disappeared on April 3, 1997, while jogging. Her body was found later that month in a retention pond.

He next killed Kelli Cox, a 20-year-old student at the University of North Texas in Denton. She disappeared on July 15, 1997, after going on a class field trip and locking herself out of her car.

Her remains were found at a rice field south of Houston in April 2016.

He confessed to raping and killing Johnston after throwing her inside his horse trailer at the Sunshine Car Wash in Bethany on July 26, 1997. 

The newlywed was 19.

He said he dumped her in tall grass off a dirt road. The mostly nude body was found the next day. 

He admitted to last killing Jessica Cain, 17, of Tiki Island, Texas.

She disappeared after leaving a Bennigan’s Restaurant in Clear Lake, Texas, on Aug. 17, 1997. Her vehicle was found abandoned along the interstate. Her remains were found on March 2016 at a dig site in Houston.

Prosecutors alleged at trial that Reece targeted his victims to satisfy his sexual urges. They alleged he lied in his confessions and never revealed his true motive and all the details of each death.

“And so in a terrifying fashion we are left wondering what really happened to Tiffany Johnston at the hands of William Reece,” Assistant District Attorney Ryan Stephenson told the judge Thursday.

“Evil is the best word that I can come up with,” the prosecutor said.

Johnston’s mother, husband and other relatives sat in the jury box for the sentencing Thursday. 

Also in the courtroom were Smither’s parents and Cox’s mother and daughter.

Reece was born in Oklahoma but lived in Texas at the time of the killings. He drove trucks, operated a bulldozer and shoed horses for a living when he wasn’t in prison.

He was charged Tuesday with a new felony: possession of contraband by an inmate.

He is accused of having a smuggled pink cellphone in jail in July.

“We have made great strides to keep contraband out of the jail,” the jail administrator, Greg Williams, said Wednesday. “However, like in all corrections facilities, inmates will continue to seek ways to get ahold of contraband. We need to stay vigilant and alert in our efforts.”

William Reece 2022 Information

William Reece is being held in Texas however he is under a death sentence in Oklahoma

SID Number:    06076393

TDCJ Number:    00831080


Race:    W

Gender:    M

Age:    62

Maximum Sentence Date:    2057-10-16       

Current Facility:    COUNTY BENCH WARRANT

Projected Release Date:    2057-10-16

Parole Eligibility Date:    2027-10-16

Inmate Visitation Eligible:   

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