- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Two men have told a Mississippi newspaper that a man scheduled for trial in Louisiana this summer on charges that he killed his first wife told them in the 1960s that he killed her.

Bruce Biedebach, whose half-sister later married Felix Vail, told The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson (https://on.thec-l.com/1edRsRV ) that he and others who were taking drugs with Vail didn’t believe the story he told a group while they were all taking psychedelic drugs in the 1960s.

Rob Fremont, who said he bicycled across California with Vail as a young teen in 1969 or 1970, told the newspaper (https://on.thec-l.com/1Bfq8wt ), that the first time Vail talked about killing his wife, “I believed him, but I didn’t want to believe him. I was in denial.”

Vail is scheduled for trial Aug. 17 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on a second-degree murder charge accusing him of drowning Mary Horton Vail in the Calcasieu River in October 1962.

He has pleaded innocent, saying the charges are fabricated.

The newspaper said it tracked down Biedebach, 72, in California, but didn’t give any other details about where the men now live.

Fremont, 57, said Vail mentioned having killed his wife twice: once in a trip across California, and again during a trip in Mexico, where they hopped freight trains. In Mexico, he said, Vail told him, “I hit her over the head and drowned her in the lake.”

He sounded as if he were still angry, Fremont said. He said it was the last time he traveled with Vail, because he thought, “He’s really serious. I’ve got to get away from this guy. This is getting too creepy.”

Biedebach said the psychedelic session was at a party in Mission Beach, California, while guys were bragging about things they’d done that nobody else had done.

When it came Vail’s turn, said Biedebach, “He told us he drowned his wife. He said he held her underwater.”

The group didn’t call authorities because “we were sort of incredulous,” he said.

Mary Vail’s death was ruled an accidental drowning in 1962, but authorities reopened the investigation after The Clarion-Ledger published a report about her death and the disappearances of two other women last seen with Vail. The current coroner has ruled her death homicide.

Vail said she fell out of a boat while running trot lines, and he was unable to save her.

Mary’s brother, Will Horton, said Vail’s boat “was a ski boat, not a fishing boat.”

“I never saw a tackle box, a fishing rod or lures. He didn’t have a trolling motor,” Horton said. “He never once mentioned going fishing.”

___

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


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