The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Seven Women Found Dead In Northwest Indiana; Suspect In Custody

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 20, 2014 6:20PM

Darren Deon Vann (Photo via Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
A 43-year-old convicted sex offender is in custody and faces murder charges in connection with the deaths of seven women in Hammond and Gary, Indiana. Darren Deon Vann was arrested in Hammond after police, responding to a call, found the body of Afrika Hardy, 19, in a Motel 6. Hardy was strangled and working as an escort, according to an aunt. Hardy’s mother said her daughter was four months pregnant.

As part of the investigation into Hardy’s death, Police served a search warrant on a Vann's sister's home on 49th Avenue in Gary, where they took Vann into custody. Vann expressed surprise Hammond Police discovered him so fast and allegedly led police to the bodies of six other women he allegedly murdered in Gary. The bodies were all found in abandoned buildings in the once-booming steel town. Some of the murders are believed to date back 20 years, a claim Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said they’re investigating.

Other victims identified by authorities are Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, Indiana; and Teairra Batey, 28, and Christine Williams, 36, both of Gary. Doughty revealed at a Monday news conference police believe Vann arranged to meet Hardy at the Motel 6 via an ad on a Chicago advertising website. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott used the new conference to praise his police department’s cracking of the case and rail against perceived reports in the media that his town is dangerous to live in. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson expressed similar relief Vann is in custody and worked to assuage fears of some Gary residents regarding their safety, but wouldn’t speculate on several matters in the case including Vann’s connection to the women or whether the bodies were found in buildings slated for demolition.

"I think the teamwork that has been displayed by the Hammond Police Department, Gary Police Department, Gary Fire Department and the Lake County Prosecutor's office has been noteworthy," she said.

Vann's most serious charge prior to his arrest was a conviction for aggravated sexual assault in Texas. His brother, Reginald Beard, apologized to the victims' families Monday.

"I'm a father of two daughters myself. This comes as a shock to us and our household. I just wish all the best. This is a painful moment for us too. I just wish (them) all the best and I'm sorry for their loss. I just wanted to say something, man, they deserve at least that."