When Lori Townsend is missing her daughter particularly badly, sometimes she texts her old phone number, “Hey!”
When the inevitable “Who’s this?” comes back, Townsend explains that the person’s number used to be her daughter’s and that she was murdered by a serial killer. The person on the other end will say some variation of, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
But two years ago her daughter Afrikka Hardy would respond. There were hopeful exchanges about applying for jobs or enrolling in school. There were more than a few deeply private conversations that made the pair seem more like old friends than mother and daughter. There were plans to come home for the holidays.
All of that communication stopped at 5:13 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2014.
That’s when Afrikka let Darren Deon Vann through the door.
Afrikka texted a friend at that exact moment that her client had just entered Room 158 of the Motel 6 in Hammond, Indiana, about a 15-minute drive from nearby Gary. Afrikka and Vann proceeded to have sex, which turned rough, he later told police. At first Vann strangled Afrikka with his hands, then with a brown extension cord he had brought with him. After choking the life out of her, Vann placed Afrikka in a bathtub, threw used condoms on her body, and left.
Within hours police traced Vann’s SUV, seen on motel security footage, to his home in Gary and arrested him. Immediately, Vann began telling a detective about his other victims. Vann then led the cop on a grisly tour of some of the 10,000 abandoned homes in Gary where the the killer had stashed the bodies of six other women he had strangled to death.
But authorities in Gary had been warned there was almost certainly a serial killer on the loose four years before.
In 2010 a journalist wrote a letter to police with the names of 15 women found strangled to death whose murders were unsolved. (Strangulation is an incredibly personal way to kill someone that often results in a quick arrest because the killer is a spouse or relative.) The Lake County Coroner’s Office contacted the reporter and told him they were looking into the killings, but the police did not.
The killings had suddenly stopped in 2007—the same year Vann was imprisoned for raping a prostitute in Texas.
The killings began again in 2014—months after Vann was released from prison. Unlike the murders police were told about, no one but the killer knew these women were dead.
Vann immediately confessed to murdering Afrikka, according to an affidavit prepared for prosecutors by Hammond Police Detective Shawn Ford. The affidavit’s contents have never been reported until now, and what follows comes from the nothing-but-the-facts-ma’am Joe Friday language of Ford’s five pages.
After confessing, Vann waived his rights and led Ford on a grim scavenger hunt for almost a week. Together they would enter abandoned homes and drug houses across Gary to look for the six other women Vann had killed.
“I’ve been doing this for a while, and I don’t even look at this guy as human,” Townsend remembers Ford telling her at her daughter’s memorial.
SEE MORE- Source: The Daily Beast