DENTON, Texas - The human remains found at a site near Houston last week were confirmed Monday as Kelli Cox, a 20-year-old University of North Texas student and young mother who disappeared in 1997.
Denton police said forensic investigators used dental records to positively identify the remains. Additional DNA testing will be conducted in the coming weeks.
Cox disappeared without an explanation almost two decades ago. Police reopened the cold case after a man convicted of a different kidnapping that same year started talking to authorities. William Reece, 56, reportedly directed police to a burial site in Brazoria County.
"After all these years it's absolutely definite. She's not going to walk through that door," Jan Bynum, Cox's mom said on Monday.
Cox's daughter, who was just a toddler when she disappeared, is now 20 years old. Like her mother, she's a student at UNT.
"We offer our most sincere condolences to Kelli's family and friends. We are hopeful that by providing closure to Kelli's disappearance and justice to the person responsible with help in their grieving process," Officer Shane Kizer with the Denton Police Department said.
Denton police said William Reece led them to Cox's remains in an undeveloped area of Brasoria County near Houston. They said he admitted to causing her death.
Reece is in a Harris County prison serving 60 years for kidnapping and is also charged with a murder in Oklahoma. Now, police said, he will soon be charged with Cox's death.
Bynum said she plans to go see where her daughter has been these past 19 years.
"Where she's been resting, the owner said I could put a memorial there," Bynum said.
Bynum said the news does not bring closure, but it does bring finality.
"I have a strong faith, known from the beginning that I'm going to see her again."