Accused Indiana killer refuses to speak at hearing, charged in second death

Suspected serial killer's dark background
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Story highlights

  • Hearing for Darren Vann is rescheduled after suspect refuses to speak in court
  • Prosecutors charge Vann with murder of second victim, Anith Jones
  • Vann has admitted to 7 killings in northern Indiana
  • Authorities with cadaver dogs go through about 120 abandoned structures
The man accused in a string of killings in Indiana appeared in court for the first time Wednesday but was held in contempt after he refused to answer the judge's questions, forcing the hearing to be rescheduled for next week, CNN's Poppy Harlow reported.
Darren Deon Vann has been charged in the death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy, and authorities say he has confessed to killing six other women and led police to their bodies.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lake County prosecutors also charged Vann in the death of a second woman, Anith Jones. Vann faces three counts related to Jones, including murder, murder in the perpetration of a robbery and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, according to court documents.
Jones, 35, had been missing since October.
Vann, 43, was expected to have an initial hearing on Wednesday related to Hardy's case but instead Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan postponed the hearing until October 29 after Vann refused to speak.
"You may want to explain to your client he stays in jail for the rest of his life until this hearing takes place," Sullivan told Vann's defense attorney, Matthew Fech.
Vann had initially refused to attend the hearing but Fech, a court appointed public defender, convinced him otherwise, said Lake County Sheriff John Buncich.
"His demeanor has been calm, quiet and collected. This morning was the first indication that he tried to be disruptive," said Buncich. "He mentioned the media. He wanted to know why there was so much media at the hearing."
Vann is being held in isolation under 24-hour monitoring, said Buncich.
Vann entered the courtroom wearing a striped jumpsuit and handcuffs. He was flanked by two officers.
Sullivan granted Fech's request that prosecutors and investigators must request Fech's permission before they interview Vann again.
Sullivan also upheld a gag order requested by the defense.
The hearing was held at the Lake County jail in Crown Point.
Investigators are looking into whether there are any other victims, and they're canvassing abandoned properties in Gary, Indiana.
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Former stepson: Suspect was 'creepy'
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Bodies of 7 women found in Indiana
Bodies of 7 women found in Indiana

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Police: Person of interest in custody
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Gary Police Chief Larry McKinley said 35 officers, along with cadaver dogs, spent Tuesday going through about 120 structures, out of an estimated 10,000 vacant properties in the city of 80,000 people.
Even without admissions of more killings, authorities are not taking any chances.
Asked why Vann chose to cooperate with authorities, Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said he wanted to cut a deal with prosecutors, but didn't provide further details. "It was just something he wanted to do," the chief said. "That's all I can say."
While taken aback by the horrific story, Gary residents aren't surprised the abandoned properties played into it. There has been a push to tear them down or do something else about them, amid fears that shady characters have used them.
One young woman, Tatianna Foster, said she doesn't leave home after 8 p.m. "because it's so dark out here, they call it 'Scary Gary.'"
Ronnie Williams, who lives half a block from where some bodies were found, said the horrifying ordeal makes him want to leave.
"I've got seven kids, two sets of twins," Williams said. "I can't take that chance."
'Low-risk' sex offender after aggravated sexual assault
The Indiana-born Vann spent time not only in Gary, about 30 miles southeast of Chicago, but also in Austin, Texas.
That's where, in December 2007, he repeatedly struck, choked and raped a 25-year-old Hispanic female, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark.
Vann was later convicted of aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony. He served five years in prison, from 2008 to July 2013.
After registering as a "low-risk" sex offender in Texas, Vann told prison officials that he would be moving more than 1,000 miles northeast to Indiana, Clark said.
He did register as a sex offender in Lake County.
Buncich said his department checked on Vann twice last year.
Officers checked in with him there on September 14 to confirm he was at his stated address.
That's all that's required, Lake County sheriff's spokeswoman Patti Van Til said. "If we had gotten an anonymous tip that he had gotten a job or was driving a car that didn't belong to him, that would be different. But we were not required, and there were no anonymous tips."
Darren Vann led authorities to several bodies in Indiana, police say.
Afrikka Hardy, 19, was the first woman found, on Friday, according to authorities.
Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, was one of the victims, a mayor's spokeswoman says.
So, too, was 28-year-old Teaira Batey.
That 2007 incident wasn't Vann's only brush with the law.
Records also show he was arrested on unspecified charges while living in Cherry Point, North Carolina, in 1993.
And court records indicate Vann was convicted in Lake County, Indiana, of misdemeanor residential entry in 2004. The affidavit tied to that crime says he put his girlfriend in a headlock while holding a lighter near a gas can -- an apparent threat to burn her -- before police eventually grabbed and arrested him.
Vann served 90 days in jail for that crime, a class D felony.
Edward Matlock, whose mother married Vann in the 1990s, described him as "a nutcase who I'd never allow near my kids or in my house." Matlock said Vann and his mother divorced after 16 years.
"He was just a strange guy," said Matlock.
Coroner seeks help identifying 2 bodies
Right now, Vann faces charges in two deaths -- that of Hardy, whose body was found in a Motel 6 in Hammond, and Jones, found in an abandoned house.
But McKinley, the Gary Police chief, told reporters Tuesday that his department will file charges in "the next couple of days" against Vann in the deaths of 28-year-old Teaira Batey and 36-year-old Kristine Williams.
"Murder is our ultimate charge," McKinley said.
Batey's boyfriend, Marvin Clinton, said her death leaves a big hole. The couple have a 2-year-old son.
"That's going to be the hardest part about it," he told WLS. "Because he loved his mama, and she loved him. It's devastating."
The other three bodies are known only as Jane Doe 3, Jane Doe 5 and Jane Doe 6.
The Lake County Coroner asked for the public's help Wednesday in identifying two of the women.
Jane Doe 3 was wearing a pair of jeans -- the brand is twentyone black by rue 21, size 3/4 -- and white Nike shoes size 6. She had shoulder length blond and rust-colored hair.
"We may have a possible lead. We will be conducting DNA analysis with her possible family through the Indiana State Police. As well as all the victims that we have identified, to be able to make a positive identification," said Lake County Coroner Merrilee D. Frey
Jane Doe 5 was 5 foot 3 inches, African-American, wearing a bracelet that included the words "Best Aunt," as well as a silver, heart-shaped ring.
Jane Doe 6 was African-American.
Frey said it is possible there are other cold cases tied to Vann.