- Associated Press - Sunday, April 13, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A man accused in southwest Louisiana of killing his first wife reportedly kept surgical saws in a secret compartment in his car.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/Q3QWJT ) says that’s in a police statement by an ex-wife of 74-year-old Felix Vail, who is charged with killing Mary Horton Vail in 1962 in Calcasieu (KAL-kuh-shoo) Parish. He’s also alleged to be the last person to see two other women who were reported missing - his common-law wife Sharon Hensley in 1973, and his wife Annette in 1984.

The newspaper obtained a copy of the ex-wife’s statement to Tupelo police and Calcasieu Assistant District Attorney Hugo Holland.

Holland says he thinks there could be victims authorities know nothing about.

Vail’s attorney, Ben Cormier, did not immediately return email and phone messages Sunday from The Associated Press. The newspaper said it was unable to reach him.

Cormier has said in the past that he cannot talk about Vail.

Mary Vail’s death was originally ruled an accident, but in 2012 The Clarion-Ledger raised questions about it, noting that the autopsy report showed a 4-inch bruise on the left side of her head and neck and 4 inches of a scarf in her mouth.

After reviewing the case, the Calcasieu Parish coroner concluded her death was a homicide. Vail was indicted last year on a charge of second-degree murder, which can only be punished with life in prison.

Vail, a native of Montpelier in Clay County, has insisted he is innocent. He blames his arrest on The Clarion-Ledger, prosecutors, money and the women’s families, saying “a large amount of money, hate and political ambitions are behind them.”

Information about the Sharon Hensley and Annette Vail cases may be brought up during Felix Vail’s trial, Judge Robert Wyatt ruled last month.

Cormier asked Wyatt to forbid it, saying neither has been declared legally dead, and there should be no criminal presumption of death.

Wyatt said he believes they died under questionable circumstances, and ruled their disappearances admissible as evidence.

In her statement, Vail’s former wife, who asked authorities not to identify her, said she and Vail were married for a few months in 1975, when she was 17.

During a visit with Vail’s parents in Montpelier, she said, she walked out to find that her husband had pulled up a compartment in the trunk of his Volkswagen. “There were sinister, surgical looking saws of all shapes and sizes in a neat, neat formation,” she said.

She said the discovery ended their marriage.

“That looked evil,” she said. “I said . ‘I’m not going anywhere with you in that car.’ It scared me.”

In the legal process called discovery, Holland told The Associated Press, “you don’t want to display to the person interviewed whether they’ve told you something disappointing or exciting or shocking.”

But, he said, when she told them about the surgical saws, he and the Tupelo officer were floored. “We couldn’t help it. We just looked at each other with looks of astonishment.”

___

Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com


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