Case of Starkville homicides reopened: Felix Vale's DNA to be compared
Starkville police have reopened a double homicide from Labor Day 1990. “We just got a lead,” said Detective Bill Lott, who is investigating the case along with detectives Kenny Watkins and Stephanie Perkins.
Betty Jones, 65, was watching Katherine Crigler, 81, at her home on 306 Mississippi 82E in Starkville when they were killed by an intruder. Jones died immediately from injuries, and Crigler died later from injuries. Detective Lott would not share additional details of the case, including the cause of death.
The homicides are known locally as “The Labor Day Murders.” Police have a DNA profile from a rape kit. All the original suspects have been ruled out, Lott said.
This week, Starkville police obtained DNA from serial killer suspect and Mississippi native Felix Vail through a search warrant in Louisiana, where he faces a murder charge in the 1962 death of his first wife. “We’re comparing,” Lott said. “He’s a strong suspect we must look at because we were able to determine he was in Starkville at the time.” Vail’s public defender, Andrew Casanave, could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Enzo Yaksic, founder of the Serial Homicide Expertise and Information Sharing Collaborative, said while most serial killers “have a preference for a specific type of victim, some select victims of opportunity by targeting vulnerable populations.” He said it’s typical for law enforcement to check DNA in these kinds of cases, just as it is being done now with serial killer suspect Samuel Little, whose DNA is being checked in homicides across the U.S.
In the Starkville double homicide, there was no sign of forced entry at the home, leading authorities to believe the women opened the door for the killer, Lott said. Even if the DNA proves that Vail is not responsible, detectives plan to keep working, Lott said.
Anyone who has any information about the double homicide should contact Starkville police at (662) 323-0393. “We want to make sure that we pursue leads and work while we have the opportunity,” Lott said.