Police investigating the slayings of seven northwestern Indiana women whose bodies were found over the weekend say today they believe it is the work of a serial killer, and that the suspect indicates there could be more victims going back 20 years. The Lake County prosecutor's office today charged 43-year-old Darren Vann of Gary, Indiana, in the strangulation death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy. Her body was found Friday night at a Motel 6 in nearby Hammond. Gary officials were expected to charge Vann later this week in the deaths of six more women, whose bodies were found over the weekend.
Vann was a convicted sex offender in Texas, where he pleaded guilty to raping a woman in 2009 and was released from prison in July 2013. Doughty says police have no specific indication that any slayings have occurred in another state, and the Gary slayings appear to have happened recently. He says Vann is cooperating with investigators in the hope of making a deal with prosecutors. "It could go back as far as 20 years based on some statements we have, but that has yet to be corroborated," Doughty says. The Texas Department of Public Safety listed his risk level as "low" on its sex offender registry. He did not register in Indiana. Read more about Vann's arrest and the search for his alleged victims. (Read more serial killer stories.)