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DA reviewing Williamson CO cold case murders

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Since taking office in January, Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty has set her sights on cold cases.

There are 23 unsolved murders in Williamson County dating back to 1967. District Attorney Jana Duty is going back through all of them, learning the victim's names and their final, horrific moments on earth.

"These families need answers and they need to see justice," Duty said. "I can see that this is going to be a passion of mine, solving cold cases."

That passion sparked when a friend of Vickie Lynn Nisbett asked Duty to give the case another look.

Nisbett was reported missing in 1991. Her blood was found inside the apartment she shared with her estranged husband Rex, but her body was never found.

After reviewing the case, Duty felt there was enough evidence to prove Rex killed her. A grand jury indicted him. He is now in the Williamson County Jail.

Nisbett's mom spoke with us soon after she learned the news.

"I'm glad they've arrested him and I hope he goes to prison but I hope before he goes he tells me where my daughter's at," Carol Johnson said. "It's hard living with the knowledge that you know she's gone. In my heart I know she's gone. But I don't know where she's at or what happened to her and that's what's hard to live with. Not knowing."

Duty has also been in contact with the family of S.E. Richie. Richie and his wife were attacked in their driveway as they unloaded groceries in 1988. They owned a laundromat in Taylor and lived outside of town.

"He was in a coma for a week then died. She survived," Duty explained.

Another tough case to tackle is the 2002 disappearance of Rachel Cooke. Duty will meet with Cooke's mother Janet next week. We asked Janet what she hoped to gain from the new district attorney in town.

"Her heart's in the right place. I hope if she says she wants to be there to see justice done. Sometimes justice takes a long time. I hope she gives Williamson County all the best help they can get to make that happen for Rachel," Janet Cooke said.

While that case may take some time, Duty tells us she is days away from presenting a 1983 Round Rock murder case to the grand jury. She won't release many details about that one.

There is no holding back when it comes to Duty's investigation of serial rapist and murderer Roger Fain Jr.

Boxes of evidence are stacked outside of her office.

In 1994, the bodies of Darlene Anderson and Sandra Dumont were found in a field near Round Rock.

Fain was convicted for Dumont's murder and given a life sentence.

Duty says fain recently filed a writ of habeas corpus, demanding some evidence be re-tested from the Dumont case.

"So when I pulled the file to say what evidence are we going to test, I'm like huh, well there's this other woman who was out there and if we're going to test some evidence in Sandra's case, let's go ahead and test some evidence in Darlene's case and see what we can find. He wasn't asking for that. Be careful for what you wish for," Duty said.

It's that feisty attitude that got the Nisbett indictment. Duty says she's not afraid of a challenge.

"I think it's in my nature to take risks. Ha, imagine that. But it's also some prosecutors; I'm not naming any names. Some prosecutors really only want to take cases to trial that they know they can win. But sometimes you have to take the hard cases to trial and I'm willing to risk that and I'm willing to take the heat if a jury says there's just not enough evidence here. At least a family had their day in court and we did our best," Duty said.

Duty says in some of the 23 unsolved cases, bodies remain unidentified. Others, it's a matter of finding the suspects who left the area years ago.

If you know any information that may help investigators solve the cases, call Williamson County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-253-8767.

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