Veteran, 47, pleads guilty to murdering seven women after accepting plea deal that will spare him the death penalty in Gary, Indiana
Darren Vann’s surprise plea Friday in the killings came after his defense team filed a motion Thursday, to stave off a trial where the prosecution was seeking the death penalty
Victims’ relatives watched quietly during Friday’s hearing as 47-year-old Vann uttered the word ‘guilty’ seven times, once for each murder count
The former Marine described as the most prolific serial killer in the history of Indiana would spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Vann was scheduled to stand trial in October in the strangulation deaths of Afrikka Hardy, 19, of Hammond, and Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville
Vann was also charged with killing Tracy Martin, 41; Kristine Williams, 36; Sonya Billingsley, 53; and Tanya Gatlin, 27
Vann who allegedly targeted women who lived near an area of Gary where women gathered to engage in prostitution or take drugs, admitted to the killings of Batey, Martin, Williams, Billingsley and Gatlin between Aug. 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014
He killed Hardy and Jones between June 1, 2014 and Oct. 18, 2014.
Police believe Vann may have preyed on victims for more than 20 years, and that there is likely more than seven victims, targeting prostitutes and other such women unlikely to be reported missing immediately
Accused murderous predator Darren Vann’s [photo], entered a surprise plea Friday in series of killings that had terrorized Gary, Indiana’s red light district.
The former Marine who authorities say preyed on women in an area of Gary known as a hangout for prostitutes and drug users, pled guilty Friday to killing seven women under a plea deal that will spare him the death penalty.
Vann’s surprise plea Friday in the killings came after the 47-year-old Gary man’s defense team filed a motion Thursday, obviating Friday’s scheduled 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.
Listed victims in the plea deal included Aurora resident Afrikka Hardy, 19, 36-year-old Kristine Williams , and Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, Indiana.
Other victims the former Marine he admitted to killing included 53-year-old Sonya Billingsley, Tanya Gatlin, 27, Teaira Batey, 28, and 41-year-old Tracy Martin, all from Indiana.
Victims’ relatives watched quietly during Friday’s hearing as Vann uttered the word ‘guilty’ seven times, once for each murder count read aloud by Cappas.
Darren Vann admitted to killing Afrikka Hardy [left], Kristine Williams [centre], and Anith Jones [right], as part of his plea deal. Vann admitted to killing Williams in an abandoned home in Gary over a drug debt.
He also entered ‘Yes’ as the names of Sonya Billingsley [left], Tanya Gatlin [centre], and Teaira Batey [right], as well as, Tracy Martin were read out in court
Marvin Clinton, who was the longtime boyfriend of one of the seven victims, 28-year-old Teaira Batey of Gary, wiped tears from his eyes outside the courtroom afterward, saying he’s relieved that Vann had finally admitted guilt in the killings.
Clinton, who had a son with Batey who’s now six, said he’s also relieved that Vann will receive a life sentence instead of the death penalty.
‘(The death penalty) would have been the easy way out. I want him to suffer. These women will haunt him for the rest of his life,’ he told The Northwest Indiana Times .
‘I prefer him to stay locked up, so when he goes to bed at night and closes his eyes, he sees these women.’
With Vann’s admission of guilt, in less than 10 seconds, four long years of waiting for relatives of the victims was over.
Vann who Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter called “one of the most prolific serial killers” his office has ever dealt with, was scheduled to stand trial in October in the strangulation deaths of Afrikka Hardy, 19, of Hammond, and Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville where prosecutors were seeking the death penalty in those deaths, infogram reports.
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.
While in police custody, Vann led police to the bodies of the women, which he had hidden inside abandoned buildings in Gary. The suspect allegedly told cops he left the body of Teaira Batey, at this location
Tanya Gatlin,was dumped by Vann in this abandoned building
When Hammond police arrested him, Vann told them he had killed six women in Gary within the previous year. According to a probable cause affidavit, Vann called the women ‘mistakes,’ and told police he would lead them to the other victims.
During the two days Vann was in custody, he admitted to the killings of Batey, Martin, Williams, Billingsley and Gatlin between Aug. 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. He killed Hardy and Jones between June 1, 2014 and Oct. 18, 2014.
During the next several days, Vann led authorities to the bodies of the six other northwest Indiana women, whose remains had been hidden in abandoned buildings in Gary.
‘Death penalty is too easy’: Marvin Clinton [photo], longtime boyfriend of a victim Teaira Batey, want’s Vann to ‘suffer’ for the rest of his life in prison.
Vann allegedly targeted women who lived near an area of Gary where women gathered to engage in prostitution or take drugs, according to court documents filed in March 2016.
Police believe Vann may have preyed on victims for more than 20 years, and that there is likely more than seven victims. He targeted prostitutes and other such women unlikely to be reported missing immediately.
When asked by Hammond detectives why he started killing women in northwest Indiana, an affidavit quoted him as saying, ‘Just I guess, anger. ‘Cause I feel I shouldn’t have went to prison the first time. You see what I’m saying?’
Vann who served in the Marines but received an ‘other than honorable’ discharge in 1993, had moved back to Gary after his July 2013 release from a Texas prison where he served time on a sexual assault charge involving a prostitute.
As part of the agreement, prosecutors agreed not to file other charges against Vann in Lake County unless related to a homicide. In the event other murder charges are brought against him in Lake County, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against Vann.
Carter said the plea agreement’s terms apply only to Lake County.
As part of the deal, prosecutors and defense attorneys agree not to release any additional information beyond what has been documented in public record, unless ordered by the court or subpoena.