Police: Indiana suspect hints at more killings
GARY, Ind (AP): Police investigating the slayings of seven northwestern Indiana women whose bodies were found over the weekend said yesterday it could be the work of a serial killer, and that the suspect has told them his victims might go back 20 years.
Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said at a news conference that the suspect is 43-year-old Darren Vann of nearby Gary, Indiana, who was convicted of a sex offence in Texas in 2009. His confession to the slaying of a woman in Hammond led police to the grisly discovery of six other bodies in Gary, including three on the same block, authorities said.
He said the Gary slayings appear to have happened recently, though Vann indicated there could be earlier victims. He said police are not actively looking for more bodies and have no indication that any murders have occurred in another state. He said Vann is cooperating with investigators in the hope of making a deal with prosecutors.
"It could go back as far as 20 years, based on some statements we have, but that has yet to be corroborated," Doughty said.
Charges were expected to be filed yesterday in the death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy, whose body was found about 9:30 p.m. Friday at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Doughty said. The Lake County coroner's office said she was strangled.
Doughty said she was involved in prostitution and had arranged to meet Vann at the motel through a Chicago-area website. Police were called by someone who attempted to reach Hardy and "was provided suspicious text responses that she believed to be from the suspect while he was still inside the motel room."
Police said they took Vann into custody Saturday afternoon after obtaining a search warrant for a home and vehicle in Gary.
Vann allegedly confessed to killing Hardy, then told investigators where more bodies could be found in abandoned homes in Gary, a deteriorating former steel town about 30 miles southeast of Chicago, police said.