Indiana killer’s attacks on women

Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 by The News Editor

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The violent past of a man who has admitted killing seven women in Indiana has emerged.

Gary police chief Larry McKinley says authorities have enough evidence to charge Darren Vann, 43, with murder in at least three more of the cases involving bodies discovered in abandoned buildings around the city over the weekend.

Vann was arrested over the weekend after a missing person’s report led police to a body in a bath at a motel. He confessed to that murder and directed police to six more bodies. The first murder charge was filed against him on Monday.

Indiana court records from 2004 described Vann grabbing a woman in a choke hold, dousing her with petrol and threatening to set her on fire. He was sentenced to a year in prison.

In 2009, he was convicted in Texas of raping a woman. She told police that when she went to his apartment in Austin he knocked her down and began to strangle her, hit her several times in the face and said he could kill her, court records show. He served time in prison until last year, when he was released and moved back to Indiana.

In both cases, the charges against Vann were reduced in plea bargains and Texas officials deemed him a low risk for violence. He registered as a sex offender in Indiana and police made a routine check last month that he lived at the address he provided.

“He was not on our radar at all,” Gary police chief Larry McKinley said at a news conference, adding that Vann was never suspected of taking part in murders in the days or months before his arrest.

Vann has been charged over the strangulation of one woman and authorities in two states are poring over cold case files and missing person reports to determine if there are more victims.

He has confessed to all seven of the killings in Indiana, Mr McKinley said, and more murder charges are expected in a few days. He will appear in court today for the first time.

Several families who have missing relatives have called since the bodies were discovered to ask if their loved ones might have been killed by Vann, said another Gary officer, Commander Del Stout.

But family and friends of victims said police should have known Vann was a threat and taken reports of women disappearing more seriously.

Victim Teaira Batey’s mother, Gloria Cullom, said she called Gary police constantly, looking for information about her daughter, and never heard back.

“I’m trying to find out, ‘Have you heard anything. Do you have any information for me?’ Nobody ever called me back,” she said.

The family filed a missing person report on Ms Batey, 27, in late January after she had disappeared for nearly three weeks.

Ms Cullom told police her daughter suffered from schizophrenia, was HIV positive and had a cocaine habit. She had last been seen leaving with a man friend she called Popeye.

Her boyfriend Marvin Clinton and father of the couple’s two-year-old son, said the family knew “something had gone terribly wrong” when they did not hear from Ms Batey, who had given up prostitution several years ago to focus on being a mother.

Mr McKinley defended police handling of the reports. “We take every report seriously,” he said.

Vann appeared to keep a low profile and follow the rules after serving a prison sentence for sexually assaulting the woman in Austin.

He registered as a sex offender in Indiana in July 2013 after he moved to Gary, said Patti Van Til, a spokeswoman for Lake County Sheriff’s Department.

Vann registered again in Indiana in July, obeying a state law that calls for sex offenders to re-register at least once each year, she said.

Detectives last checked on Vann on September 14 to make sure he was living at the Gary address.

“He had registered and complied with the requirements,” Ms Van Til said. “We had the appropriate response from him.”

Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 by The News Editor

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