Oct. 20, 2014

Gary, IND. – Earlier today, charges were filed by Hammond, Ind. police against 43-year-old Gary resident Darren Deon Vann for the murder of Afrika Hardy as well murder in the perpetration of a robbery and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. The initial murder investigation led to the confession of six other murders committed by Vann with those bodies being recovered in the city of Gary in abandoned structures. The Gary Police Department began assisting Hammond Police on Saturday, Oct. 18 upon being notified of the locations of the bodies as told by Vann.

“The Gary Police and Fire Departments were dispatched to the locations and conducted thorough searches of all locations recovering 6 bodies,” said Gary Police Chief Larry McKinley. “The investigation is ongoing, and we will continue to work with all relevant law enforcement agencies while employing our own investigative tools to
gather as much evidence as possible.”

Since the murder connection to Gary, Indiana was announced, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has conducted non-stop media interviews to share updates and notify residents that the suspect had been apprehended.

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“This news has been devastating to our city, and my condolences go out to the families that have been impacted by these tragedies,” said Freeman-Wilson. “I want to reassure Gary residents that our police department is tackling this case aggressively and that we are employing ever effort to make the city safe.”

In addition to the Gary Police and Fire departments, Freeman-Wilson commended the efforts of the Hammond Police Department, the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake County Crime Lab and Coroner’s Office.

Last month, Freeman-Wilson joined Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann in announcing the first homes to be demolished with Hardest Hit Funds, which were awarded by Ellspermann’s office. The City of Gary will be using $6.6 million in funds to demolish approximately 1,000 homes. As recent as last week, the Sheraton Hotel, which stood abandoned in downtown Gary for decades, was demolished using monies from HUD, EPA, the Regional Development Authority and Community Block Grant dollars.

“We have been focused on demolition since this administration came into office in 2012,” said Freeman-Wilson. “It takes money to knock down buildings and that’s why we went after non-traditional resources like the Hardest Hit Funds and we will continue to do so.”

Another initiative that the city has taken in its approach to fight crime and blight is the 5x5x5 Neighborhood Revitalization Program. Since the spring of 2013, the City has partnered with neighborhood organizations and churches organizing community clean-ups and spending 5 weeks, in a 5-block radius, employing city resources
including General Services, Demolition, Board-up, lot clearing, code enforcement, crime sweeps among other services.

“The 5x5x5 program helps citizens take back their neighborhoods,” said
Freeman-Wilson. “We remove blight, cite violators and focus on high crime activity
areas.”