Steve Rogers

About Steve Rogers

Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

Vail Possible Suspect in Starkville Cold Case

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — For 23 years, they’ve been known in Starkville as the “Labor Day Murders.”

Now Starkville Police hope new technology and an arrest in a string of old deaths might give them a break in the cold case homicide of two Starkville women.

This week, police obtained a DNA sample from suspected serial killer and Clay County native Felix Vail — he grew up and lived in the Montpelier community — to compare it to a DNA profile from a rape kit taken in the 1990 deaths.

Betty Jones, 65, was caring for 81-year-old Katherine Crigler at Crigler’s home on Highway 82 when they were attacked and killed by an intruder. There was no sign of forced entry to the home, leading police to believe the women let their attacker in.

Starkville Police recently reopened the case after Vail was arrested under suspicion of killing his first wife in 1962. Based on extensive investigation by Clarion Ledger reporter Jerry Mitchell, Vail also is a suspect in the death of his second wife and a girlfriend.

Starkville investigators Bill Lott, Kenny Watkins and Stephanie Perkins say they got a lead in the cold case and determined Vail was in Starkville when Jones and Crigler were killed on Labor Day in 1990.

Police say they’ve cleared all previous known suspects in the case through DNA testing.