CANYON LAKE, TEXAS — Authorities charged Mississippi native Felix Vail on Friday with murder in the 1962 drowning of his wife — the oldest prosecution of a serial killer suspect in U.S. history.
The Clarion-Ledger, following a months-long investigation, detailed in an eight-page special report the peculiar circumstances surrounding the drowning of Mary Horton Vail and the fate of other women who crossed Vail’s path. The Nov. 11 report, titled “Gone,” prompted authorities to reopen the investigation.
Vail, 73, was the last known person to see three women alive — Mary Vail; his longtime girlfriend Sharon Hensley, who disappeared in 1973; and his wife, Annette Craver Vail, who disappeared in 1984.
“He’s getting what he deserves,” Horton said. “Over the years, the freak fortune of fate has benefitted him. It’s just a shame a cover-up came when my sister died, but justice is on the right path.”
At the time of his wife’s drowning, Felix Vail told authorities she had accidentally fallen into the Calcasieu River in Lake Charles after he steered to avoid a stump.
He told them he was laying trotlines.
Authorities jailed Vail for questioning, but he was released a few days later.
In January 1963, Calcasieu Parish grand jurors heard evidence against Vail, but then-District Attorney Frank Salter didn’t let them consider a murder indictment.
Salter’s father, Felix Vail and a number of Vail relatives and friends all worked for Cities Service Co., later known as CITGO.
After analyzing the autopsy of the Oct. 28, 1962, drowning death of Mary Horton Vail, renowned New York pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told The Clarion-Ledger he believes foul play took place.
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