The former Marine suspected in the slayings of seven women pleaded not guilty in an Indiana court Wednesday to two murder charges. Appearing again in Lake Superior Court, Darren Deon Vann, 43, was more courteous, answering “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am” to a judge’s questions. The Gary man’s demeanor was a change from a week ago, when he refused to talk and was held in contempt of court. Prosecutors could choose to pursue life without parole or the death penalty for Vann, a convicted sex offender in Indiana and Texas.
Police have so far charged him in the strangulations of Afrika Hardy, 19, and Anith Jones, 35. Hardy’s body was found at a Hammond, Indiana, motel on Oct. 17, after police say she and Vann met through an escort ad. Upon his arrest, police said, Vann also admitted to the deaths of six other women, including Jones, also an alleged escort worker. Her body was found in an abandoned home. Vann has not been charged in the five other deaths, all considered homicides, and has since become uncooperative, police added. His next court date is set for Jan. 9.
— Erik Ortiz