GARY, Ind. >> A man suspected in the deaths of seven women in northwestern Indiana has been charged in one of the slayings.
The Lake County prosecutor’s office on Monday charged 43-year-old Darren Vann of nearby Gary, Indiana, in the strangulation death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy. Police say her body was found Friday night at a Motel 6 in Hammond.
The Lake County coroner’s office said she was strangled.
Hammond Police Chief John Doughty says Hardy was involved in prostitution and had arranged to meetVann at the motel through a Chicago-area website.
Police took Vann into custody Saturday afternoon. Doughty said Monday that Vann confessed to killing Hardy and told investigators more bodies could be found in abandoned homes in Gary.
Gary officials expected to charge Vann later this week.
The Lake County coroner’s office said three of the bodies were found Sunday night at two locations in Gary, a city about 30 miles southeast of Chicago, while the other four bodies were found earlier over the weekend. The coroner’s office called the new deaths homicides, with one victim strangled and unspecified injuries for the other two women.
Police said Sunday that a 43-year-old man confessed to killing a woman whose body was found in a Motel 6 in the neighboring city of Hammond and told investigators where the bodies of three other women could be found in abandoned homes in Gary.
Gary police found the bodies of three women at different locations in Gary late Saturday and early Sunday, following up on information the man provided during questioning, Hammond police Lt. Rich Hoyda said Sunday.
The county coroner’s office identified the victim found in Hammond as 19-year-old Afrika Hardy and ruled her death a strangulation, and said a second victim has been identified by family members as 35-year-old Anith Jones of Merrillville, who had been missing since Oct. 8.
Jones’ body was found at the same address where two other bodies were found Sunday night. Autopsies are pending on those three women.
Police discovered Hardy’s body about 9:30 p.m. Friday at a Motel 6.
“A friend of the deceased called us, and she was concerned when she didn’t respond to her calling,” Hoyda said. “We were sent there and found that person dead.”
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.”