Kelli Cox: Remains Found In Search For Teen Missing Since 1997

Kelli Cox vanished without a trace on July 15, 1997. Nineteen years later, authorities believe they found the missing student’s remains in a Brazoria County, Texas, horse pasture. According to reports, the location was suggested by William Lewis Reece — who is a suspected serial killer.

Dallas News reports Kelli Cox, who was 19 at the time of her disappearance, was a criminology student at the University of North Texas.

On the day of her disappearance, the single mother dropped her 19-month-old daughter off at daycare and met her classmates at the Denton Police Department for a tour of the jail.

Following the tour, Kelli returned to her vehicle to discover she had locked her keys inside. Although she had a spare key, she simply could not get it to work.

Cox went back inside the police department to call for help. However, as the call to her boyfriend was long-distance, the officers directed her to a pay phone outside a Conoco gas station.

Authorities confirmed Kelli made the call to her boyfriend, who agreed to meet her in the Denton Police Department parking lot. Unfortunately, by the time Lawrence Harris arrived his girlfriend had seemingly vanished into thin air.

Although extensive searches and interviews were conducted by local and state officials, the circumstances surrounding Kelli Cox’s disappearance remained a mystery.

It was eventually assumed that the young mother was abducted at some point between the Conoco gas station and the Denton Police Department. However, authorities did not find any signs of a struggle and there were no witnesses to the apparent crime.

Nearly 20 years later, authorities got a chilling tip from convicted kidnapper and suspected serial killer. William Lewis Reece reportedly told authorities they would find Kelli Cox’s remains in a Southeast Texas pasture.

Two months before Kelli’s disappearance, 19-year-old Sandra Sapaugh was using a pay phone outside a Webster, Texas, gas station, when she was approached by William Reece.

According to reports, Sandra’s tire was slashed and Reece offered to help. Although she was hesitant to accept a ride from a stranger, the man grabbed the teen and forced her into his vehicle. Thankfully, Sandra Sapaugh managed to escape before she was seriously harmed.

Five months later, William Lewis Reece was arrested and charged with kidnapping. The following year, he was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Houston Chronicle reports Reece had a long, and disturbing, history of crimes against young women, which began 10 years before Kelli Cox went missing.

In 1987, William was arrested in the kidnapping and rape of a University of Oklahoma freshman. While he was released on bond pending trial, he was arrested for raping another young woman — who he followed home from a bar.

Reece was later convicted of both crimes and sentenced to 25 years in prison. However, he was released only 10 years later on a technicality.

Upon his release in October, 1996, authorities believe the former truck driver commenced a kidnapping and killing spree which spanned several states.

William Lewis Reece is suspected in the kidnapping and deaths of 12-year-old Laura Smither, 19-year-old Tiffany Johnston, and 17-year-old Jessica Cain. He is also now a suspect in the disappearance of 19-year-old Kelli Cox.

Although it took nearly 20 years, Reece seems to be talking about his crimes and helping authorities find the remains of his victims.

Three weeks ago, the convicted kidnapper and rapist was spotted with authorities in West Orem — who were conducting a dig. According to reports, William led authorities to the site where he reportedly buried Jessica Cain.

Although human bones were unearthed at the site, officials said it could take several weeks to determine whether the remains belong to the missing teen.

This week, Reece was spotted with authorities at a dig site in Brazoria County. The Miami Herald reports authorities found remains, which they believe belong to Kelli Cox. However, it will take some time for a medical examiner to confirm.

[Image via Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock]