Jury selection begins in trial of Oklahoma teen’s 1997 murder against man linked to at least 5 other kidnappings, killings

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Jury selection began Monday morning at the Oklahoma County Courthouse for the trial of the 1997 murder of Tiffany Johnston in Bethany.

The suspect, William Lewis Reece, has been linked to five other kidnappings or murders across Oklahoma and Texas.

In July of 1997, 19-year-old Tiffany Johnston’s Dodge Neon was found at the Sunshine Carwash near Northwest 23rd and Council in Bethany. The newlywed’s keys were still in the ignition but the teen was nowhere to be found.

Tiffany Johnston

The next day, Johnston’s naked body was found in a Canadian County field.

The Medical Examiner later determined Johnston had been strangled and raped. According to 2015 records, examiners took vaginal and rectum swabbings from Johnston.

In 2015, DNA taken from Johnston was linked back to William Reece. 

At that time, Reece was already serving a 60-year sentence in Texas for the rape and kidnapping of Sandra Sapaugh.

According to reports, Sapaugh was kidnapped at knifepoint but managed to escape and call police.

Investigators said that crime happened two months before Johnston’s death.

Twenty-year-old Kelli Cox and 17-year-old Jessica Cain’s bodies were not found until 2016, when Reece led Texas investigators to graves where their remains were buried.

Back in Oklahoma, court documents show investigators decided to test Reece’s DNA against Johnston’s unsolved case.

The same court documents show investigators linked payphone records, proving Reece was in Canadian County on the same day Johnston vanished.

Investigators also allege Reece admitted to knowing the teen’s family.

Reece was extradited to stand trial in Oklahoma, where he previously spent a decade locked up for sexually assaulting two women. According to online records, Reece had only been out of prison for one year when the murders occurred.

Oklahoma prosecutors said they plan to seek the death penalty in Johnston’s murder. 

Reece’s attorney has said their client is only willing to admit his role if capital punishment is taken off the table.

Jury selection is expected to take days, perhaps even one week.

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