Indiana police on Monday named a suspect in custody in the killings of seven women whose bodies were found over the weekend, and they said he may be responsible for slayings as long as two decades ago.
Chief John Doughty of the city of Hammond identified the alleged killer as Darren Deon Vann, 43, and said he was convicted of a sexual assault five years ago in Texas. He was arrested Friday after a 19-year-old woman was found strangled at a Motel 6.
Vann is “what I would label a serial killer,” Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. told reporters.
NBC Chicago reported earlier in the day that the suspect had confessed to all seven killings, and the police chief said Vann had led officers to at least three of the bodies. Authorities said they planned to charge him with murder. They said there could be more victims.
Vann apparently arranged a meeting at a Motel 6 with one of his victims through a “pay-for-service prostitution ring” online, Doughty said. A facilitator tried to reach the woman on Friday night and got suspicious text messages in return believed to be from the suspect, the chief said.
The facilitator went with a friend to the Motel 6 and found the body, he said. The facilitator gave police a phone number that led them to Vann, he said. Vann told police that he had “messed up” by committing the killing at the Motel 6 and was surprised how quickly they tracked him down, the chief said.
Six other bodies were found over the weekend in the nearby city of Gary. The second was found Saturday in an abandoned home. Two more were found the next day in the same home, and three others elsewhere in Gary. A missing-person report was out for at least one victim, the chief said.
Vann is cooperating with police and looking for a deal with prosecutors, Doughty said.
As for a motive, the chief said: “I don’t have a specific reason he does this.”
— Erin McClam