Convicted sex offender confesses to murdering seven women in Chicago suburbs ... but police fear more victims

Police Investigating Possible Serial Killer in Indiana
Police Investigating Possible Serial Killer in Indiana


An Indiana man has confessed to killing seven women, and police believe there may be more victims.

Darren Vann, a 43-year-old convicted sex offender from Gary, has already led police to three of their bodies, police said. The investigation into the women's deaths began after a teen escort was found last week strangled to death in a motel bathroom.

The admitted serial killer also provided investigators information on where to find the additional four bodies, and police believe there may be more victims.

"His level of cooperation and statements he's given us could lead to more victims," Hammond Police Chief James Doughty said at a Monday afternoon press conference. "It could go back as far as 20 years, based on some statements we have."

Vann appeared surprised police quickly tracked him down after 19-year-old Afrika Hardy was found murdered at a Motel 6, according to Doughty.

She was found naked in the bathtub with the shower running, according to an affidavit obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. There were red marks on her neck that appear to have been caused by "something thin."

A broken fingernail, shirt button and torn condom wrapper were found on the floor, according to police. The bed had been moved away from the wall, indicating there was a struggle between the victim and her killer, the affidavit said, according to the Sun-Times.

Hardy is believed by investigators to have met Vann on as an escort, sources told WGN. Hardy's partner in the escort service told police she was met in the motel by a John using the name "Big Boy Appetite" on the site, according to the affidavit.

The partner detailed frantic attempts to contact Hardy after her appointment with Vann "went past the normal time," police said in the filing. She called the dead escort eight times.

The woman and a friend then later that evening went to Hardy's hotel room and discovered her dead body.

Vann was soon linked to the killing after detectives tracked him down using phone records, Doughty added. He did not resist arrest and volunteered all information to officers while "seeking a deal with prosecutors."

"Mr. Vann told Hammond police officers at the scene that he messed up by committing the crime at the Motel 6 in Hammond and was surprised he was caught," the police chief said.

The suspected serial killer admitted to killing Hardy while the pair had sex.

"At one point the sex was getting rough and she started to fight with him," the document said, according to the paper. "Vann said that he strangled the woman first with his hands and then with a cord before placing her body in the bathtub of the motel room."

No motive has yet been established for the crimes: "I don't have a specific reason he does this," said Doughty.

"Late afternoon on Saturday the search warrant was executed at a home there and a vehicle and person of interest in the Hammond incident was taken into custody by Hammond police," authorities told the paper in a statement.

"A subsequent interrogation of [Vann] led to the man making a confession and then leading detectives to the city of Gary where several other female victims of possible homicide were located.

"The search warrant was executed not at the residence of the suspect but at a location near to the reported suspect's home in Gary."

A second woman, 35-year-old Anith Jones, of Merrillville, was found murdered late Saturday night, according to the paper.

Jones had been reported missing one week ago according to police. The dead woman's sister told local reporters she is "very street savvy."

Five additional Jane Does were discovered dead Sunday, two of them in the same home, according to Doughty. Of the seven victims, six were found in abandoned houses in Gary.

The remains uncovered over the weekend are believed to be "more recent" than 20 year ago, said Doughty.

"We have evidence that he was in Texas and all over the United States," Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson told the Tribune.

Police believe he acted alone in all the killings.

His sex offender status was established in Texas, according to federal records.

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