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William Reece indicted on capital murder charge in Kelli Cox slaying

William Reece was indicted Thursday by a Brazoria County grand jury in connection with the 1997 kidnapping and killing of 20-year-old University of North Texas student Kelli Cox.  

William Reece
William Reece

An Oklahoma truck driver, Reece is facing a charge of capital murder with bail set at $3 million, according to the indictment.  He has now been charged in the death of two women, including Cox, and two girls who all disappeared within a four-month span in 1997. 

Cox disappeared from Denton on July 15, 1997, after a tour of  the Denton City Jail with her criminology class. That day, she left her parents' home, dropped off her daughter at a baby sitter's and eventually joined her class at the Denton Police Department. She called her boyfriend from a nearby payphone after the jail tour, saying she couldn't get back into her car. That was the last anyone heard from her.

Nearly two decades later, Reece led authorities to Cox's remains, which were buried in a pasture about 30 minutes south of Houston.  

Denton police Investigator Mike Leverton led the investigation before he retired around 2011. Detective Eric Beckwith took over the case from there.  

Kelli Cox
Kelli Cox

"We searched every lead," Denton police spokesman Shane Kizer said. "Whether it seemed positive or far-fetched, we would still seek it out."

Reece caused Cox's death by slamming her into a vehicle with his hand, according to his indictment. 

When Reece led police to the burial site in April 2016, he had already been serving a 60-year prison sentence in Texas for a kidnapping conviction. 

Reece has since been indicted in the killings of Jessica Cain, 17, and Laura Smither, 12,  in Galveston County. He is currently in Oklahoma awaiting trial on another murder charge from 1997. 

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.