Greenfield woman to attend murder trial
Believes man on trial is her daughter’s killer
Mary Rose sits in her Greenfield home with a picture of her daughter, Annette.
Mary Rose in her Greenfield home
GREENFIELD — Newell Court resident Mary Craver Rose was volunteering at the RECOVER Project on Wednesday afternoon at around 4 when she got the call she’d been waiting for from a Clarion Ledger reporter in Jackson, Miss.
Rose, who in 30 years has never given up her belief that her 19-year-old daughter’s killer would be brought to justice some day, said she had put it out of her mind that a judge had been reviewing some evidence that included information about her daughter for the past month.
“I knew there was going to be a hearing March 19, but I wasn’t thinking about it that day because I had things to do,” said Rose. “All of a sudden Jerry Mitchell was on the other end of the phone, and he told me that the judge had decided that testimony regarding Annette would be presented during the trial.”
Rose said she was elated.
“I turned and hugged the woman I was working with,” she said. “I was so excited, I had to run in and tell the project’s director. I feel like there’s finally going to be some closure.”
The date for the upcoming murder trial of suspected serial killer Felix Vail is expected to be set on May 17. Rose said she will attend the trial, which will be held in Louisiana, and will most likely testify now that evidence concerning her daughter has been deemed admissible.
Vail, 74, was charged last May with the murder of his first wife Mary Horton Vail, whose 1962 death in Lake Charles, La., was originally ruled an accidental drowning. He has insisted he is innocent, according to reports out of Mississippi and Louisiana.
He was also the last person to be with two other women who went missing: his common law wife Sharon Hensley, who disappeared in 1973, and his third wife, Rose’s daughter Annette Craver, who disappeared in 1984.
His arrest has been called the “oldest serial killer suspect case in U.S. history” by some experts, according to reports.
Annette Craver was 19 and living in Tulsa, Okla., with Vail when Rose last saw her in 1984.
In 1962, Vail insisted that his first wife had fallen out of their boat while they were fishing in the Calcasieu River, which runs alongside downtown Lake Charles, where Vail is currently incarcerated.
At the time, authorities ruled Mary Horton Vail’s death an accidental drowning, despite apparent contradictions in Vail’s story and the fact that he had purchased a life insurance policy on his wife months earlier.
After Hensely disappeared, Vail told police she had left him, boarding a boat to sail around the world with an Australian couple she met in Key West, Fla.
When Rose’s daughter disappeared, Vail told authorities she had gotten on a bus to Mexico, and Rose couldn’t prove otherwise at the time — she and her daughter were estranged because of Vail.
The local woman has spent the past 16 years living in Franklin County and supporting herself by offering piano lessons and doing personal care.
“I always suspected Felix in my daughter’s disappearance,” she said. “I want to see him sent away for the rest of his life.”
Last year, Rose returned to the house where she and her daughter had lived before it become home to her daughter and Vail.
“I went into the house and it brought up a lot of emotion,” she said.
Rose said she went there because the people who are now living in the house called police when they found a bag filled with her daughter’s clothes and a prescription bottle with Craver’s name on it.
“It’s evidence, so I couldn’t go through it,” said Rose.
Vail, if convicted of his first wife’s murder, will receive a life sentence without parole, according to press reports from Mississippi and Louisiana.
Rose said it won’t be the same as Vail being convicted in connection with her daughter’s disappearance, but it will give her some peace. She said she is holding out hope that Vail, if convicted in one case, will eventually confess to a role in the other two disappearances.
Rose has worked with private investigators and with investigative reporter Mitchell, who took a special interest in Vail and his alleged victims.
Her tenacity and all of her investigative work eventually led her and authorities to the families of the two other women, and many connected with the case have hailed Rose as the person responsible for bringing Vail to justice because of her persistence.
On April 17, area residents will hold an event to support Rose as she prepares to travel to Louisiana to attend the trial. The event will include performances by Amandla Chorus and FIRE POND, as well as some dramatic readings of poems and letters written by Craver and Rose.
More information about the event will follow at a later date.
Rose said proceeds from the event will be donated to the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition for a fund for women who are battered and abused and their families. She said some of the money will be used to send her to Louisiana for the trial.