Friendswood is a tight-knit town with a distinct heritage and a burning spirit of volunteerism that, above all, cherishes its families and children. 

But almost two decades ago on April 3, 1997, the city was shaken to its core when 12-year-old Laura Smither went missing. About 6,000 residents and Marines volunteered and organized search parties over 17 days before her body was discovered. The case went cold.

That is until last year, when convicted felon William Reece—already serving a 60-year sentence for kidnapping—began cooperating with investigators on two other Texas cold cases. In September, a Texas grand jury indicted him for two murders, including Smither’s.

Reece is on trial in Oklahoma on another murder charge. If that case is set for the death penalty, the Smither family may never see its day in court.

Although Smither’s loss weighs heavily on her family and the community, her life has touched so many.

Smither’s parents founded the Laura Recovery Center in 1998 to prevent abductions and runaways as well as help in the recovery of missing children.

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