Monday, October 20, 2014

Convicted sex offender Darren Deon Vann identified as suspect in deaths of 7 women

© Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/MCT The abandoned house at 413 E. 43rd Ave. in Gary, Ind., where a 43-year-old man directed police to find the bodies of three women. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/MCT) 
Chicago Tribune

Posted by:

A convicted sex offender has been identified by police as a suspect in the deaths of seven women whose bodies were found in northwest Indiana over the weekend, authorities said.

Darren Deon Vann, 43 (left), was arrested Friday night after a woman was found strangled at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Ind., police said at a news conference Monday. Investigators have since discovered the bodies of six other women in Gary, Ind.

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said authorities are investigating claims by Vann that he has killed other people "going back 20 years in the state of Indiana. . . .That has yet to be corroborated."

Chicago police have expressed interest to Hammond police to interview the suspect at some point in the investigation, according to a law enforcement source.

It's unknown whether the suspect is connected to any unsolved murders in Chicago. But Chicago police investigators want to talk to the suspect because of the city's proximity to Gary and Hammond.

Doughty said he did not know what allegedly motivated Vann. "I don't have a specific reason he did this."

Vann was convicted of first degree aggravated assault in Travis County, Texas, in September of 2009,
authorities said. He was accused of attacking a 25-year-old woman.

The first body was discovered Friday night in Hammond, the last three Sunday night in Gary.

Around 9:30 p.m. Friday, police were notified of a person found unresponsive at a Motel 6, according to Hammond Police Lt. Richard Hoyda. The woman was later identified as Afrika Hardy, 19, and her death ruled a homicide by strangulation.

Hammond detectives "developed a subsequent lead in that case that led them to seek a search warrant," which was executed Saturday afternoon at a home on 49th Avenue in Gary, Hoyda said. A man there was taken into custody, Hoyda said.

An interrogation "led to the man making a confession and then leading detectives" to places in Gary where the bodies of three other woman were found, Hoyda said. The victims were found late Saturday and early Sunday in the 2200 block of Massachusetts Street, the 400 block of East 43rd Avenue and the 1800 block of East 19th Avenue, officials said.

The woman found on East 43rd Avenue was identified by family as Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, the Lake County coroner's office said Sunday. The cause of death was pending autopsy, and the manner of death remained under investigation, the coroner's office said.

The body discovered on Massachusetts Street was clothed in a pair of blue jeans and white Nike shoes, according to the coroner. The body on East 19th Avenue was wearing a green hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. The identities of both women were unknown and the cause of death in each case was pending investigation, the coroner's office said in news releases.

'Pretty Sad and Fucked Up, my Thoughts and Best Wishes to the family and friends of those victimized by this Psychopath....'