Lake County, Ind authorities have formally charged a Gary man suspected of murder.
43-year-old Darren Vann was identified as a suspect in at least seven murders and authorities say there could be more.
The case against him began to unfold at a Motel 6 off I-80 in Hammond where the body of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy who police say was a prostitute was found Friday night. She was strangled to death.
Police say Vann met Hardy through the website Chicagobackpage.com.
When she failed to check in after their arranged meeting her female pimp who police call a “facilitator” became concerned and sent her a text.
Hammond police Chief John Doughty says Vann sent back texts using Hardy’s cell phone.
“The Facilitator attempted to call Ms. Hardy and was provided suspicious text responses she believed to becoming from the suspect when he was still inside the hotel,” Chief Doughty said.
Evidence at the scene led Hammond police to the suspect in Gary. He was taken into custody for Hardy’s murder then began to confess to other killings.
Over the weekend the bodies of six additional victims were found in Gary.
35-year-old Merriville resident Anith Jones was found in the 400 block E. 43rd Ave.
28-year-old Gary resident Teairra Batey was found at 1800 block of E. 19th Ave.
And unidentified African-American female was found the 2200 block of Massachusetts.
36-year-old resident Christine Williams was found in the 4300 block of Connecticut.
And when investigators returned to the 400 block of East 43rd Ave, two more unidentified African-American females were found that investigators missed the first time they visited that location.
Investigator still don't know don't know a detailed time frame on when the murders occurred. They also do not know if the victims found in abandoned homes were murdered there or dumped there.
Hammond police say they had no contact with the suspect before.
“It is possible the investigation will lead to more victims so we have to be careful what we say at this point,” the chief said.
Vann’s first court appearance could be Tuesday.