HOUSTON, Texas – Human remains discovered in a Houston field are those of a woman who went missing almost 20 years ago.
Kelli Cox, a 20-year-old University of North Texas student, disappeared in 1997.
According to KPRC, Cox disappeared on July 15, 1997 after touring the Denton jail with her criminology class. She phoned her boyfriend to pick her up from a payphone nearby, but was never heard from again.
Nearly two decades later, a convicted kidnapper who is currently serving a 60-year prison sentence decided to lead investigators to Cox’s remains.
William Reece led investigators to a pasture in southeast Texas, where he said he buried Cox’s body.
Jan Bynum, Cox’s mother, says she has waited nearly 19 years for answers.
On April 5, investigators called Bynum to let her know that remains had been found and they believed they were Kelli’s.
“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t cry,” Bynum told KXAS. “There’s not a day goes by that I don’t cry thinking about my child and not knowing, is she out there being harmed every day? Is she in some sort of sex trafficking ring and being raped constantly? You can imagine all the kinds of things when you don’t know. And yes, I wanted her to walk through that door, but if she’s gone, it is what it is, and I want those answers so I can bring her home.”
William Reece was arrested and sent to prison in 1998 after he abducted 19-year-old Sandra Sapaugh, who was able to escape and call police.
Now, he has been linked to several cases, including at least one murder.
In 1997, 19-year-old Tiffany Johnston was abducted from the Sunshine Car Wash in Bethany, Okla.
The next day, July 27, her body was found just south of I-40 in Canadian County.
Cox and Johnston are two of five women who were kidnapped, murdered or disappeared in 1997 under similar circumstances.
Sources tell KPRC all five are connected to Reece.
Reece moved to Houston in 1996 after serving time in Oklahoma for rape.
Anthony Osso, Reece’s attorney, said his client has a serious heart condition and realized that he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison regardless.
“He wants closure for the families involved,” Osso said. “I think he’s at peace with the fact that he’s going to remain in prison, probably die in prison.”