Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Indiana serial killer claims "way more" victims in Illinois

Convicted serial killer Darren Deon Vann told detectives he killed "way more" victims in Illinois than in Northwest Indiana where he strangled seven women over a 10 month period in 2014, in most cases depositing their bodies in abandoned properties in the city of Gary. 

Vann's recently released admissions made seven years ago have sparked new inquiries by Chicago police and the FBI into whether he is responsible for any of 50 unsolved strangulations of Chicago women. Their bodies were recovered in abandoned buildings, empty alleyways and large trash receptacles from 2001 to 2018, mostly on the city's south and west sides.

Hammond Police Department detectives arrested Vann on October 18, 2014 for the strangulation murder of Afrikka Hardy, 19, found in the bathtub of a Motel 6 room. Vann said he wanted the death penalty rather than spend the rest of his life in prison. He agreed to take detectives into Gary where six previously unknown female homicide victims were recovered in abandoned properties.

Detectives asked Vann why he killed the women. "It relieves it," Vann replied. "I want to say it relieves the pressure. 'Cause really, I just, relatively, I'm crazy." When asked how he selected victims, he replied, "They are random. They're random." Vann also said he didn't want to provide details about victims in other states, fearing it would start interstate competition for his prosecution that might delay his execution in Indiana.

"That's why I really can't give you Illinois because Illinois probably has a whole lot of... They have more than Indiana, let's put it at that. They have way more than Indiana," Vann said.

The Murder Accountability Project, under the Freedom of Information Act, obtained video recordings of 15 hours of interviews with Vann by Hammond detectives. MAP was told about the recordings by journalist Benjamin Kuebrich who produced a 12-part podcast series called "Algorithm" about MAP's statistical process identifying homicides with an elevated probability of being serial crimes. NBC Chicago affiliate WMAQ is the first mainstream news media outlet to report on Vann's admissions.

Vann said he usually tried to distance himself from his family when he felt a killing rage. "I get on the train. I get on the bus. I'd be like: I know I'm losing it. I try to get far away from my family when I felt myself slipping."

The bodies of several Chicago strangulation victims were recovered along a north-south line that paralleled the Chicago Transit Authority's Green Line elevated trains. To see a map of all strangulation victims' recovery sites showing details of each crime, click here. To see a copy of MAP's 2019 report about the strangulations requested by the Chicago City Council, click here.