Investigators have found skeletal remains in a field located in south Houston, Texas, that could possibly belong to Jessica Cain, who vanished in the area almost two decades ago, according to the Houston Chronicle.
According to ABC 13 News, authorities were led to the location after the prime suspect in Jessica’s disappearance, William Reece, 56, offered information that led them to the site. Reece is currently in prison, serving 60 years behind bars for the kidnapping of a different woman. ABC 13 News reports that Reece has been transported to the dig location a number of times and lived only miles away from where investigators were searching for Jessica.
In August 1997, Jessica, 17, who was a senior at a Catholic school at the time, was celebrating her performance in a school musical with the rest of the cast at Clear Lake restaurant. After the celebration, she began driving home and disappeared, according to the Houston Chronicle. Jessica’s truck and her purse, locked inside the vehicle, were recovered on the side of a local interstate on a route that led to her residence.
Reece was determined to be a potential suspect in Jessica’s disappearance after DNA testing conducted in 2015 connected him to the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Tiffany Johnson, 19, who vanished from an Oklahoma car wash just three weeks after Jessica went missing, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The Houston Chronicle also indicates that Reece has been “convicted, charged or identified as a potential suspect in attacks on several young women in Texas and Oklahoma according to police…” all of which took place in 1997, except two from a decade prior.
In 1987, a 28-year-old Reece worked as a truck driver. His first known victim was an Oklahoma college student he offered to help with car trouble. Instead, according to the Houston Chronicle, Reece taped her up in a sleeping bag, threw her into his truck, and then sodomized and raped her. The woman later testified he told her he was “crazy” and then professed his love for her, saying he wanted to wed her. She was lucky enough to escape his clutches after playing along with him, gaining his trust, and being allowed to use the restroom on her own.
Webster Police Lt. Pete Bacon told the Houston Chronicle that Reece “likes to target young women in nighttime hours and fabricate car trouble.” Bacon continued, saying “…he’s a calculating predator. Monster is a pretty accurate word for him.”
Missing Persons of America reports that Reece is also a suspect in the death of Laura Smither, 12, who disappeared in April, 1997, not far from her Friendswood, Texas, home. She was homeschooled, rarely wandered far from home, and was a talented dancer, CBS News reported.
On the morning she went missing, Laura decided to jog up the road prior to breakfast. When she failed to return home, her parents called police. Just a few weeks later, a man taking a walk with his son found Laura’s lifeless body, according to CBS News. The Houston Chronicle reported that she had been left in a Pasadena, Texas, retention pond wearing only socks.
Laura’s parents created the Laura Recovery Center in their daughter’s honor to prevent further kidnappings and children from running away, as well as find missing children through creating a bond between the community, law enforcement, and families.
Lonnie Nehls, who is providing the machinery currently used to dig up the field to search for evidence, told the Houston Chronicle that authorities believe Jessica was buried up to six-feet underground by someone who used a bulldozer. Reece, according to the report, was convicted of stealing two bulldozers around the same time period Jessica and several other young women vanished.
According to KHOU, the local medical examiner’s office is currently attempting to determine whether the skeletal remains found Friday belong to Jessica. Houston Homicide Detective Richard Martinez made a comment to KHOU.
“If it’s not Jessica Cain, then we have to find out who it is… There’s enough there to know that it’s a body so they still have to keep digging and meticulously get every bone they can.”
[Photo by David J. Phillip/AP Photo]