Human remains have been found at a site in Brazoria County where a convict told authorities he buried University of North Texas honor student Kelli Cox, her mother said Tuesday.
Jan Bynum of Farmers Branch said Tuesday that she received a call late Monday about the discovery of the remains. Her daughter has been missing since 1997.
“It may take DNA for positive identification,” Bynum said in a telephone interview.
Directed by convicted kidnapper William Reece, authorities have been digging at a location in Brazoria County in coastal Texas for more than a week.
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Two Denton police investigators were on the scene Tuesday, said Denton police spokesman Shane Kizer.
“They were there last week, returned home during the weekend and went back on Monday,” Kizer said.
KHOU-TV reported that authorities are excavating a strip of land off Texas 288 South. Kizer said they continued digging Tuesday.
“Because DNA comparisons on skeletal remains are problematic and can take significant time, the remains have yet to be identified,” Kizer said in a news release. “The Denton Police Department cannot say definitively that the remains recovered are Kelli Cox; however, we are hopeful that they are.”
Reece, 56, is also a suspect in several other cases. The Houston man has been in prison since 1998, but he has been accompanying authorities in recent days on searches for missing young victims, according to Houston area news outlets.
He guided authorities to a pasture in southeast Houston and human remains were found March 18. Medical examiners are working to identify the skeletal remains, which could be those of missing 17-year-old Jessica Cain of La Marque.
Reece is a suspect in her August 1997 disappearance and in the murder that same year of Laura Smither, 12, of Friendswood.
Smither disappeared while jogging, and her body was found a month later in Pasadena, according to multiple news outlets in Houston.
In 1997, when Cox, 20, disappeared, Reece had worked as a truck driver and bulldozer operator in the Houston area. She disappeared July 15 of that year after taking a tour of the Denton Jail with her UNT criminology class. She called her boyfriend about noon, and when he arrived to meet her he found only her car.
She had a 19-month-old daughter.
Cox has been legally declared presumed dead, her mother has said.
Reece was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 1998 for an aggravated kidnapping in Harris County, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records. While in prison, he was also sentenced to three years for theft in Brazoria County.
He was charged in September with the murder and kidnapping in Oklahoma of 19-year-old Tiffany Johnston, who was abducted on July 26, 1997, from a carwash in Bethany, Okla., The Daily Oklahoman reported. He was charged in that case after DNA evidence linked him to the crimes.
Bynum said she remembered hearing Reece’s name early in the investigation.
“If she’s gone, I want to know that,” Bynum said Tuesday. “I just want to bring her home.”
This report includes material from The Associated Press.