Laura Recovery Center

(Redirected from Murder of Laura Smither)

The Laura Recovery Center is a non-profit organization that works to prevent kidnappings and abductions and to recover victims of such events. The center is located in Friendswood, Texas, and is named for Laura Kate Smither (April 23, 1984 – April 3, 1997), a 12-year-old girl who was abducted near her Friendswood home and murdered.



The center was established by Smither's parents, Bob and Gay Smither, in April 1998 in response to their daughter's murder. On April 3, 1997, Laura Smither was abducted near her home while she was jogging. After her disappearance, more than 6,000 volunteers searched over 800 square miles (2,000 km2). Her body was discovered seventeen days later, on April 20, in a regional water retention pond ten miles from her home.[1] In 2016, William Lewis Reece was indicted on charges of murdering Smither, and other missing Texas girls, and in 2021 he was sentenced to death.[2][3]

The center originally focused on education, training law enforcement and organized community searches related to child abduction and child safety, but as of 2013 is no longer active in recovering missing children.[4][5]



The Laura Recovery Center has organized numerous community led searches for abducted children, including those for Danielle van Dam and Morgan Harrington. The search for van Dam was the group's first out-of-state effort[6] and was one of the largest volunteer search efforts in Californian history, with hundreds of volunteers searching deserts, highways and remote areas for weeks.[7] A volunteer party organized by the Center found her body.[8]


  1. ^ Hanson, Chris (2020-04-03). "The disappearance of 12-year-old Friendswood girl Laura Smither". Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  2. ^ Christian, Carol (2017-04-03). "Abducted 20 years ago, Laura Smither leaves legacy of hope and healing". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  3. ^ Arnold, Robert (2021-06-02). "After 24 years, 4 murders and one kidnapping, William Reece is sentenced to death". Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  4. ^ Newpher, Jeff (2013-02-20). "Laura Recovery Center changes with the times". Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  5. ^ Arnold, Robert (2017-04-01). "Remembering Laura: A 20-year search for justice". Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  6. ^ Ma, Kenneth. "Volunteers scour county for Danielle", North County Times, February 10, 2002. Retrieved April 22, 2007.
  7. ^ "Body Confirmed as Danielle van Dam". ABC News. February 28, 2002. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  8. ^ Madigan, Nick (March 1, 2002). "Grim Guesswork Led to the Body of San Diego Girl". New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2014.