Man pleads guilty to serial killing of 7 poor women


Associated Press

CROWN POINT, Ind.

A former Marine who authorities say preyed on women in an area of Gary, Ind., known as a hangout for prostitutes and drug users pleaded guilty Friday to killing seven women under a plea deal that will spare him the death penalty.

Darren Vann’s surprise plea Friday in the killings came after the 47-year-old Gary man’s defense team filed a motion Thursday that scheduled Friday’s change-of-plea hearing.

The usually combative Vann was largely emotionless during Friday’s hearing as Lake County Judge Samuel Cappas reviewed the terms of the plea agreement that calls for him to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Vann is now set to be sentenced May 25.

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said he hopes Friday’s plea agreement brings closure to the victims’ families.

Vann was scheduled to stand trial in October in the strangulation deaths of Afrikka Hardy, 19, of Hammond, and Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville. Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for Vann in their deaths.

Vann was arrested in October 2014 as police in Hammond investigated the killing of Hardy, whose body was found in a bathtub inside a Hammond motel room.

When Hammond police arrested him, Vann told them he had killed six women in Gary within the previous year.

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