More than 50 years later, man found guilty of killing wife in La.

Published: Aug. 12, 2016 at 1:23 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2016 at 11:00 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Felix Vail killed his wife Mary Horton Vail in 1962 and tried to make it look like a drowning accident on the Calcasieu River.

That's what Mary Horton Vail's family has been saying for years and what prosecutors have alleged for three years.

On Friday, a jury agreed with her family and the prosecution, finding Felix Vail guilty in her death. The jury, which had to be unanimous for a guilty verdict, deliberated less than an hour following four days of testimony. Andy Casanave, Vail's attorney, said he plans to appeal.

"I think if they all paid attention and made a true, honest effort to come to a decision, there was only one decision they could come to and that was guilty," said Will Horton, Mary Horton Vail's younger brother. "I think Felix hit Mary on the back of the head at the boathouse on Shell Beach. I think he placed her in the boat and covered her with a tarp. Well prior to that he put the scarf around her and may have strangled her."

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

Mobile users click HERE for more photos.

Mary Horton Vail, a former homecoming queen in Eunice, La., was 22 years old when her body was pulled from the Calcasieu River in 1962. Felix claimed she had drowned. There were questions even then, but a grand jury declined to make a decision whether to indict him.

Through the years, though, Vail became a suspect in the disappearances of two other women - Annette Craver Vail and Sharon Hensley. Hensley was a girlfriend of Felix's who went missing in 1973.  Felix met Annette Craver Vail when she was just 15. They married when she was 17. She has not been seen since 1984. Click HERE for more on the disappearances of the three women.

Although Felix was not on trial for their disappearances, Judge Robert Wyatt allowed prosecutors to tell jurors of the disappearances of both women.

"I couldn't be happier, I'm so relieved," said Mary Rose, Annette's mother. "She disappeared 32 years ago so finally to have justice done, to have someone held accountable. It was him. I knew all along that he was responsible.  And it took me years to find out that there were other women besides my daughter who had died or disappeared in his care."

While law enforcement pondered the case throughout the years, it never took off until Rose approached a Mississippi journalist and asked him to investigate.

Mary Rose asked Jerry Mitchell if he would like to investigate a serial killer living in Mississippi - where Felix lived at the time. Mitchell agreed.

But for Mary Rose not letting go, but for her not calling Jerry Mitchell, we wouldn't have gone anywhere with this," prosecutor Hugo Holland said. "Mary Rose and Jerry Mitchell deserve a lot of credit."

Holland said there was more evidence than prosecutors could present before the jury.

"If anybody questions the verdict – which they should not – once the appeal is over, make a public records request to the DAs office and see the amount of evidence we had against him which we didn't introduce at trial," Holland said.

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