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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at DePauw chapter.

The streets of the mid-western regions of the states often become home to several strange atrocities, but 2014 proved to be one of the darkest years Indiana had ever seen. It was the year of the emergence of the notorious Indiana Serial KIller, Darren Deon VANN. 

Darren, also known as the “Indiana Serial Killer”, was born in Indiana. He had been married to a woman 30 years older than him for more than 16 years. She filed for divorce in August 2009, and their marriage finally dissolved in April 2010. The first entry in his criminal record was reportedly getting arrested in Gary, Indiana, for threatening his girlfriend’s life; this made him spend over 90 days in jail. Following this, he had also spent five years in a state penitentiary in Travis County, Texas, due to a sexual assault case. Before starting his serial killing career, the final entry on his legal roster was receiving an “other than honorable” discharge from the United States Marine Corps in 1993. 

Darren was described as a strange man by most of his peers. He indulged in a lot of problematic activities such as drug abuse, stealing, and assault. One of his neighbors accused him of having all sorts of psychopathic tendencies for the longest time. According to his brother-in-law, Jacob, Vann was a pathological liar and had a chronic superiority complex. All of these psychopathic qualities ended up becoming the perfect ingredients for a serial killer.   

The Indiana serial killer was first arrested in October 2014 for the strangulation death of Afrikka Hardy, a 19-year- old female at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Indiana. He confessed to the murders of six other female victims. Darren was a proud serial killer with no remorse at all. He proudly led police to the bodies of six women. All six of them were found in some abandoned structures in Gary, Indiana. These were later demolished and turned into memorials for the victims. The head of the Police department at the time stated that “The killings have really left masses shocked and terrified at this is the least we can do to help the families find solace.” 

Through investigation and Dareen’s confessions, police discovered that the killer had brutally murdered seven women in the short span of a year.

  1. Afrikka Hardy: Afrikka Hardy, 19, had just moved to Chicago after graduating from high school. Darren hired her through an escort agency on the night of October 17tth, 2014. They met at a Motel 6 at 3840 179th Street in Hammond, Indiana. She was found dead in a bathtub in one of its rooms later that night. The post-mortem report revealed that she was raped a couple of times before the killer strangled her to death.  
  2. Anith Jones: Anith Jones, 35 was a resident of Gary, Indiana; last seen alive on October 8, 2014. She was reported to be missing two days after this, and her body was found in an abandoned house that Dareen led police to. During the investigation, the murderer revealed that he had killed the woman because of the force of habit. 
  3. Teaira Batey: Teaira Batey, 28, of Gary, Indiana, left to meet a friend on January 13, 2014, but she never returned. Her family kept waiting to hear back from her but never did. Her body was found in an abandoned house at 1800 East 19th Avenue in Gary on October 19. 
  4. Kristine Williams: Kristine Williams, 36, of Gary, Indiana, disappeared in February 2014, according to her mother in law. She was a mother of four. Darren confessed that he murdered her because they argued at a departmental store. In his tapes, he said, “she was annoying and worthless, and I was craving the smell of blood”. Her body was found in an abandoned house at 4330 Massachusetts Street in Gary on October 19. 

The police never confirmed the names of the other three victims. Several missing people were associated with the case, but no confirmations apart from the four names. The police said that it was impossible to identify the rest of the bodies found because of their condition. Darren said he had mutilated a lot of these bodies because he was “bored”.  

On May 4, 2019, Darren pleaded guilty to seven murders and was sentenced to seven concurrent life sentences without parole.

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