May 20, 2013 7:36 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck

After 51 years, man charged in wife's murder

The death of Mary Horton Vail has been a mystery since 1962. She died in Calcasieu, and her husband said she fell out of the boat while they were fishing in the Calcasieu river.

Her death then was ruled a drowning. But last year the case was re-opened... and re-classified a homicide.

Then Friday her husband Felix Vail was arrested in Canyon, Lake Texas. Vail was extradited back to Lake Charles yesterday.

Although a grand jury failed to indict him in 1963 for the murder, the current District Attorney says he plans to try again.

He is seeking an indictment for Vail on a charge of second degree murder.

Mary Horton Vail's family says this arrest has been a long time coming.

"It's been a long haul, and there's just a lot of anger with law enforcement for what they didn't do that they should have done back then," Will Horton, Mary Vail's brother, said.

Horton never believed his sister drowned in the Calcasieu river, even though that's what authorities said happened.

"The District Attorney, and his cohorts, let Felix walk. That was terrible," he said.

The Grand Jury decided there was not enough evidence for an indictment. Instead the case was classified as a drowning.

"Well when you fall out the boat, you don't have the bruises and the injuries that she had," Horton said.

Mary Vail also had a scarf stuffed down her throat, but the DA at the time did not pursue the case.

"Lead detective in the case said they wanted to prosecute, but the District Attorney wouldn't allow them to prosecute," Horton said.

At the time of her death, Mary left behind her four-month-old son, Bill Vail. He died of cancer three years ago, but before he died, he explained to his church, in a podcast, how he overheard his father confess to a girlfriend that he killed his wife Mary.

"Overheard him just sobbing, which caught my attention and he told her that he had murdered my mother, and that just shocked me to no end," Bill Vail said, in a recorded interview.

Authorities in Calcasieu parish got a warrant for Felix Vail after two other women connected to him disappeared.



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