More details released in Felix Vail arrest

Felix Vail arrested in 1962 Cold Case
Published: May. 18, 2013 at 1:56 AM CDT|Updated: May. 20, 2013 at 7:20 PM CDT
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Mary Horton Vail (Source: Family)
Mary Horton Vail (Source: Family)
Felix Vail circa 1983
Felix Vail circa 1983
Felix Vail (Source: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office)
Felix Vail (Source: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office)
A recent photo of Felix Vail.
A recent photo of Felix Vail.
Mary Horton Vail (Source: Family)
Mary Horton Vail (Source: Family)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office authorities held a press briefing at the Lake Charles Regional Airport late Friday to address the arrest of 73-year-old Felix Vail, a suspect in the 51-year-old death of his wife, Mary Horton Vail.

Mary Horton Vail was found dead in October 1962 in the Calcasieu River. Felix Vail claimed that she was the victim of a boating accident.

Felix Vail, a Mississippi native, was arrested Friday in Canyon Lake, Texas. He is being charged with second-degree murder and arrived in Calcasieu Parish on Friday night. Authorities said he waived extradition.

Felix Vail is a suspect in other deaths as well, including in the deaths of a girlfriend and another wife. See more about those cases in the attached video.

Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said local authorities have been diligently working the case. He said the case was recently re-evaluated and ruled a homicide.

"That gave us a little more perspective," Mancuso said. "We feel like we have a much stronger case than we did back in 1962."

Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier said next, the case will be set for a grand jury hearing.

"We feel like we have sufficient evidence to demonstrate that this death was, in fact, a homicide. We feel like we can prove that in court," DeRosier said.

Both Mancuso and DeRosier said they will be working with other jurisdictions on the case.

"It is never too late. You know, when you drop out that anchor, it may have a long rope, but eventually justice is going to take care of it and it's going to catch up with you," DeRosier said.

Calcasieu authorities questioned Felix Vail earlier this year. KPLC's Lee Peck did an in-depth series on the case. Read more HERE.

Mary Horton Vail, 22, was a Eunice native. She attended McNeese State University, majoring in education.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

The following is a Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office news release regarding Felix Vail's arrest:

In a joint investigation that has spanned almost a year, Sheriff Tony Mancuso and District Attorney John DeRosier announced the arrest of William Felix Vail, 73, for the murder of his wife, Mary Horton Vail, in October 1962. Vail was arrested at his home located in Canyon Lake, Texas which is between San Antonio and Austin. Both DeRosier and Mancuso said this is undoubtedly the coldest case that either of their offices has investigated.

Vail was originally investigated by Calcasieu authorities in 1962 due to the extremely suspicious circumstances surrounding the unexplained "drowning" of Mary Vail the evening of October 28, 1962. A Calcasieu Grand Jury pretermitted the matter in January of 1963, meaning they simply did not have enough evidence at the time to indict but were sufficiently suspicious that they refused to return a "no true bill."

The case was re-opened recently when an investigative reporter, spurred by Mary Vail's surviving family members, discovered evidence of the disappearance under suspicious circumstances of other women tied to Vail. That evidence, when weighed with the opinion of Calcasieu Coroner Dr. Terry Welke, who after a recent review classified the death a "homicide," was sufficient for Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's detectives to seek a warrant for the arrest of Vail. Judge Robert Wyatt signed the warrant and ordered Vail to be held without bond.

Vail waived extradition and was transported to Lake Charles where he was booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center yesterday evening.

District Attorney DeRosier will schedule Vail for a preliminary examination within 45 days of his arrival in Calcasieu Parish, and likely seek an indictment against him for 2nd degree murder sometime thereafter.