48 Hours on CBS delves into the tragic 1997 murders of four girls in Texas and Oklahoma in a gripping new episode titled “The Daughters Who Disappeared.” Tune in to this true crime investigation on Saturday, October 21, at 10 p.m. ET for an in-depth look at this haunting case.

In mid-1997, tragedy struck Texas with a wave of mysterious disappearances, including a 12-year-old girl. Over a course of five months, four victims vanished, igniting public outcry, and demanding swift actions from authorities. Surprisingly, the case took a startling twist when it was uncovered that the true number of abductions was five, with one girl managing to escape and survive. 

The investigation began and although serial killer William Reece pleaded not guilty at first, he did admit to killing four innocent girls over the span of five months in 1997. Shockingly, the victims’ families had to wait almost two decades to find justice. Sadly, some of the family members had to wait for the same amount of time to know the whereabouts of their loved ones’ remains.

Serial killer Willam Reece pleaded guilty to cold-case murders while on death row in Texas

The brutal murders of four girls – Laura Smither, Kelli Cox, Tiffany Johnston, and Jessica Cain – shocked everyone, and serial killer William Reece was put on trial for his brutalities, as per CBS News. Surprisingly, Reece admitted to killing the aforementioned names while being on death row in another case.

The fifth victim, Sandra Sapaugh, was the lone survivor of the atrocities committed by serial killer William Reece. She came forward to provide the description of her kidnapper’s vehicle. As per her testimony, Sapaugh stopped to use a pay phone when she caught the attention of Reece. As Sapaugh continued her journey, she got a flat tire. Reece, following closely in his white truck, offered assistance. Little did she know, this encounter would quickly turn into a nightmare. Reece lured his target into his truck, overpowering her and restraining her wrists. Despite her terrifying ordeal, Sapaugh managed to escape by jumping out of the vehicle. 

Serial killer William Reece was convicted of the kidnapping charge in 1998 and sentenced to 60 years imprisonment. After the conviction, he submitted his DNA samples to the authorities, and in 2015, his DNA matched to the murder of 19-year-old Tiffany Johnston. As a result, Reece admitted to killing all four girls and pleaded guilty. According to the Texas Department of Corrections, serial killer William Reece is currently on death row in the Allan B. Polunsky Unit, Texas.

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