VAIL TRIAL DAY 3: Mary could have drowned, forensic pathologist testifies

Published: Aug. 11, 2016 at 2:27 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2016 at 2:13 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - With witnesses, photos and documents,  the state has been putting together pieces of a puzzle for jurors in the case of Felix Vail.

It's a case some call the oldest prosecution of a serial killer suspect in U.S. history. The pieces are almost together for the jury to see the picture - as painted by the state.

Vail is on trial for the 1962 death of his wife, Mary Horton Vail. Vail is also believed to be the last person to see two other women, but he has not been charged in connection with their disappearances. Annette Vail has not been seen since 1984, and girlfriend Sharon Hensley, hasn't been seen since 1973.

Earlier, Hensley's brother testified she considered Felix Vail her husband.The prosecution is putting on witness after witness dealing with Felix Vail's relationships with the three women.

Vail has claimed both women took off on him. Annette moved to Mexico, he said. One of the last witnesses of the day was Annette's mother and a detective from Tulsa who testified about various items discovered that Annette surely would have taken with her for an out-of-town trip. They include her birth control prescription, various feminine hygiene and contraceptive items and clothing.

The jury also heard how Annette married 43-year-old Felix when she was just 18 and how Annette's property was transferred to Felix. Through letters and journals, the jury became aware of various conflicting stories Vail has told about what happened to the women.

Also, the jury heard from a defense witness taken out of order, since the state has not rested. Forensic Pathologist Dr. James Traylor from Shreveport was put on to refute the testimony of Calcasieu Coroner Dr. Terry Welke who says he's "100 percent sure" Mary Horton Vail's death was a homicide.

Traylor basically disagrees with Welke and said, with all the information they have, it is reasonable to conclude Mary drowned.

Earlier the jury heard from a private investigator from Texas who went undercover and developed a friendship with Vail through which she discovered letters and journals that seem to incriminate him. Gina Frenzel was helping Mississippi reporter Jerry Mitchell who was investigating the death and disappearance of the three women

Friday morning. the state puts on a renowned forensic pathologist, Dr. Michael Baden, who is known for his investigations into the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations and testimony in the OJ Simpson trial.

KPLC's Theresa Schmidt is following the case. Keep up with the trial by clicking HERE or following her on Twitter.

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