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Indiana Officials Say Man Has Led Them To Multiple Bodies

Police found one of seven women's bodies over the weekend at Motel 6 in Hammond, Ind.
M. Spencer Green
Police found one of seven women's bodies over the weekend at Motel 6 in Hammond, Ind.

Update at 6:53 p.m. ET

Indiana prosecutor on Monday charged Darren Vann, a 43-year-old who pleaded guilty to a Texas rape in 2009, with murdering a woman in the Gary, Ind., area. Charges in at least six other murders are expected, The Associated Press reports.

Vann has claimed murders in the area going back 20 years, according to Hammond, Ind., Police Chief John Doherty, but police have not confirmed that.

The Chicago Tribune got comments from Vann's wife, as well as his brother, Reginald Beard:

" 'To the victims, I'm sorry for their loss,' Beard said. 'I'm a father of two daughters myself. This comes as a shock to us and our household...This is a painful moment for us too.'

"Reached by telephone Monday, a woman who identified herself as Vann's ex-wife called the news a 'shocker.'

" 'Oh ... I don't believe it,' said the woman, who did not want her name published. 'I am half-way in shock,' she said.

"The woman said she met Vann through a friend and they were married in 1995, but had been estranged since 2005. She said he never mistreated her."

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

Police in Hammond, Ind., believe they may be on to a serial killer after a man who confessed to killing one woman subsequently led authorities to the bodies of six others, the AP reports.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson tells the AP that the suspect, 43, directed investigators to sites where bodies were found Saturday and Sunday. Freeman-Wilson said the suspect is from Austin, Texas.

The Associated Press noted that

At an early afternoon news conference, Hammond Police Chief John D. Doughty said the suspect, who is cooperating with authorities, said in an initial interview that he'd "messed up."

He detailed several of the victims — some found in Hammond and others in nearby Gary.

"It is possible that the investigation will lead to more victims," Doughty said, adding that the homicides could go back as far as 20 years.

USA Today reports:

"The Lake County coroner's office said the women were found Sunday night in two different locations in Gary. The coroner's office called the three new deaths all homicides, with one victim strangled and unspecified injuries for the other two women. The bodies of seven slain women have been discovered in the two cities since late Friday.

"Police in Hammond, Ind., were led to the man, who has not yet been formally charged and authorities aren't naming, after finding the body of Afrika Hardy, 19, at Motel 6 on Friday. She had been strangled, according to the Lake County coroner's office."

The AP says:

"Police investigating her death obtained a search warrant for a home and vehicle in Gary. Police conducted the search Saturday afternoon and took the man into custody. Hoyda said the man confessed during questioning and then told investigators 'where several other female victims of possible homicide were located.'

"Hoyda said the man's name wasn't being released because he had not yet been formally charged. He would not say when charges will be filed. He was being held in the Hammond City Jail."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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