Mr. Darren Vann condemned himself when he told police, after being apprehended in Gary, Indiana, that he strangled Ms. Afrika Hardy, first with his hands and then with an extension cord, after their encounter turned rough and they began to fight. Vann went further, explaining that he had been committing murders for over 20 years and giving locations of where other murdered women could be found around the old steel town. Gary had stood for prosperity not only for Hoosiers, but for Chicagoans, too. The town now has a black eye, as cadaver dogs and officers comb neighborhoods filled with vacant houses. Vann is certainly enjoying the attention, according to police.
Officers think Mr. Vann used online dating services to lure women to Hammond and Gary before murdering them, and three of the four identified lived in Indiana. Vann met the 19-year old Hardy at the Motel 6 after contacting her online and arranging a meeting. After calling and texting Ms. Hardy’s phone numerous times, her female associate received an odd text which prompted the well-being check. Hardy’s friend and another gentleman were able to locate Ms. Hardy because they knew the room she was in. Although video surveillance at the hotel shows him leaving in a blue Jeep, Mr. Vann did not attempt to leave town after the murder.
Austin police are combing cold case files to see if Vann is linked to any outstanding crimes in Texas. Federal authorities are helping the Hammond and Gary police with searches and information gathering. Vann has just enough time to plead for his life, while Bernard Carter, the Lake County prosecutor, preps his staff to prepare for a death penalty case. “We take each case separately,” Carter said. “He’s not going anywhere.” Mr. Carter plans to prosecute the case himself, yet Vann has already condemned himself by staying in Gary, Ind., after the Hardy murder. Carter has to wait for approval from the sentencing review for a death penalty case. The board convenes quarterly, hence the ability to give a thorough review of all of the circumstances. At the moment, Mr. Vann has three charges: murder, murder in the perpetration of robbery and robbery resulting in great bodily injury.
Facts are laid in the police officers’ laps, but no one has asked why. Mr. Vann was released from prison and after being given a sex-offender status, no one checked on him enough. Vann beat, choked and raped a woman in Texas and then released her. Vann must have known he was going to jail as the door closed behind his victim. Vann has been condemned in Gary by his own admissions. The evidence has been presented already and families want to grieve and come to some sort of terms with these crimes. The newspapers and cameras will stop printing and flashing, yet Gary, Indiana, still suffers from poverty and an enormous number of vacant homes. Mr. Vann has more exposure than Enterovirus D68, but nobody will ask Mr. Vann why he committed the murder or murders. Surely a woman saying no or physically resisting his “Big Boy Appetite” online persona did not make him murder Ms. Hardy or the other possible victims found. Mr. Vann may have a mental problem, and a public persecution without having first giving him counseling is also abuse.
Opinion by Oliver L. Malcom, Jr.
Photo By Ken Piorkowski Flickr License Lethal Injection Bed
Photo By OZinOH Flickr License Lake County Superior Court