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Local woman to attend trial of daughter’s ex

GREENFIELD — There’s new hope for Mary Craver Rose, the Newell Court resident who has never given up her belief that her daughter’s killer would be brought to justice some day.

Rose last saw her only child, Annette Craver, when she was 19 years old and living in Tulsa, Okla., with her husband, Felix Vail. She said she will attend Vail’s murder trial in Louisiana, or wherever it ends up, because she wants to see the now 74-year-old man she said she believes is responsible for the disappearance of her daughter convicted and sent away to prison for the rest of his life.

Earlier this summer Vail was charged with the murder of his first wife, originally thought drowned while fishing with him in 1962. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Vail insisted in 1962 that his wife had fallen out of their boat while they were fishing in the Calcasieu River, which runs alongside downtown Lake Charles, La., 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.

Rose said she learned during a recent trip to Tulsa — where Vail and her daughter were living when her daughter disappeared — that a trial date is expected to be set in November, which means the trial will most likely begin sometime next year.

The local woman, who spent the past 15 years living in Franklin County and supporting herself by offering piano lessons and doing personal care, said she always suspected Vail in her daughter’s disappearance. But she had no doubts about it after she learned about Mary Horton Vail and Sharon Hensley, Vail’s longtime girlfriend, who disappeared in 1973. Vail told police that Hensley 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 that 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.

Rose recently returned to the house she and her daughter once shared, the house that eventually became her daughter’s and Vail’s home.

“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 Louisiana.

Rose said it won’t be the same as Vail being convicted of killing her daughter, but it will give her some peace. She said she is holding out hope that Vail, if convicted, will eventually confess to a role in the other two disappearances.

“As soon as Annette disappeared, I knew something was amiss,” said Rose. “I filed a missing person report and I haven’t stopped looking for the truth since.”

Rose has worked with private investigators and with an investigative journalist who took a special interest in Vail and his alleged victims. With their help, Rose’s search eventually led her to the families of the two other women.

Many connected with the case have hailed Rose as the person responsible for bringing Vail to justice because of her tenacity and persistence.

The case is now being called the “oldest prosecution of a possible serial killer in U.S. history.”

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