Cold case trial: Coroner certain woman was killed in 1962


LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — The coroner who reopened the investigation of a 1962 death says he’s absolutely certain the 22-year-old woman was killed, rather than the victim of an accidental drowning.

Dr. Terry Welke was the first witness in the trial of 76-year-old Felix Vail, who has pleaded innocent to a charge that he murdered his first wife, Mary Horton Vail.

KPLC-TV reports via Twitter (http://bit.ly/2b3ArsO ) that defense attorney Josh Monroe began cross-examining Welke on Wednesday, questioning his certainty.

Welke said Mary Vail’s body was stiff, with crossed arms, when she was found face-up in the Calcasieu (KAL’-kuh-shoo) river. He said drowning victims are normally found face-down.

Welke reviewed photographs of the retrieval of Mary Vail’s body and the 1962 coroner’s report. Unlike that coroner, Welke is a forensic pathologist.

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Information from: KPLC-TV, http://kplctv.com

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