US & Canada

Police comb unsolved cases for ties to Indiana 'killer'

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty appeared in Hammond, Indiana, on 20 October 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Hammond Police Chief John Doughty has said Vann's crimes may go back two decades

Authorities in two US states are reviewing unsolved cases for links to an Indiana man being held on suspicion of killing seven women.

Darren Vann, 43, confessed to strangling a woman whose body was found at a local motel on Friday.

He directed police to six other bodies and hinted that his crimes go back 20 years, police have said.

Investigators warn it make take years to determine if other victims, who may not have been reported missing, exist.

"[Vann] preyed on individuals that might be less likely to be reported missing... it makes it more difficult," said Karen Freeman-Wilson, mayor of Gary, Indiana.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Darren Vann has been charged in the strangling death of Afrikka Hardy

Vann, a former Marine, was charged on Monday in the strangling death of Afrikka Hardy, 19. Her body was found on Friday in a local motel outside Chicago.

A police official has said Hardy was involved in prostitution and met Vann at the motel. Authorities were contacted by a friend of Hardy trying to reach her.

Maria Vann, who was married to Vann for 16 years, told the New York Times she had married a kind man who was "nice to everyone".

But she left him after his personality changed and then she cut off contact after his sexual assault conviction in Texas in 2009.

Vann has also been charged with murder in commission of a robbery and robbery causing great bodily injury in connection with her death.

John Doughty, police chief of Hammond, Indiana, earlier said Vann confessed to Hardy's death and later directed authorities to six bodies nearby.

The body of one victim was found on Saturday night in an abandoned home and five more bodies were found the following day in other homes.

Victims identified so far include Anith Jones, 35, Teaira Batey, 28, and Christine Williams, 36.

Mr Doughty also said the victims discovered over the weekend had all been killed recently, and Vann had told investigators he may have killed people for up to two decades.

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