Public defender appointed for man accused of killing his wife 51 years ago

A man accused of killing his wife more than 50 years ago will be represented by a public defender — for now. According to the Louisiana Clarion-Ledger:

Vail, 73, is charged with murder in the 1962 death of Mary Horton Vail, who reportedly drowned in the Calcasieu River that runs next to downtown Lake Charles, La.

At the time of her death, Vail told deputies that his wife had accidentally fallen into the water while he was laying trotlines. Deputies at the time found his trotlines still coiled in his tackle box, according to the arrest warrant.

The coroner at the time ruled her death an accident, but Calcasieu Parish Coroner Dr. Terry Welke recently ruled Mary Vail’s death a homicide, saying she was dead before she ever went into the water.

Vail 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 Vail, who disappeared in 1984.

An intensive investigation by the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Department and district attorney’s office in Lake Charles led to Vail’s arrest.

Talk about a cold case! Whoever represents Vail will have a fascinating challenge on his or her hands…

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