Accused Serial Killer: Darren Deon Vann

Let me apologize for my absence, I’ve been spending time filming the hit show CHICAGO PD, starring a great, up and coming actor named LaRoyce Hawkins; as well as the upcoming Fox series EMPIRE with acclaimed stunt performer Eddie J. Fernandez and Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard. My participation in these productions can be considered minimal at best but hopefully won’t end on the cutting room floor. However minute my role; it was a pleasure to be in the company of these talented actors. Unfortunately, news out of nearby Hammond, Indiana brought me back to earth and returned me to my original calling.

The body of 19 year old Afrikka Hardy was found at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Indiana on October 17th. Friends of Ms. Hardy had begun to text her after her disappearance and became apprehensive when they received suspicious text responses believing that they were from the suspect. Evidence collected from the crime scene led to of 43 year old Darren Deon Vann being considered a suspect. After obtaining a search warrant, authorities arrested Vann near his Gary, Indiana home.

Darren Deon Vann
Darren Deon Vann

Once in custody, Vann began a horrific tale of the internet, prostitution and murder. Vann’s confession led authorities to the discovery of 6 additional bodies in the Northwestern Indiana area. Vann told interrogators how he arranged a rendezvous with Ms. Hardy who posted her “services” on an internet site. While in custody Vann confessed to the murders of Anith Jones, Teaira Batey and four other women from the Hammond/ Gary area. The current number of Northwestern Indiana murder victims in which Vann may be responsible is now at 7. Statements made during the course of his confession lead authorities to believe that the overall death toll may be much higher and his spree may extend back over 20 years.

Darren Vann, the suspect in these serial murders is no stranger to law enforcement. A convicted sex offender from Austin, Texas, Vann pleaded guilty to rape in 2009. Before that conviction, he served a year in prison in Indiana after he grabbed a Gary woman in a chokehold in 2004, doused her with gasoline and threatened to set her on fire. The victim in the 2009 case told police that in 2007 she went to Vann’s apartment, where he asked if she was a police officer. After she told him no, he knocked her down and began to strangle and beat her, hitting her several times in the face and telling the woman he could kill her. He then raped her. Sentenced to 5 years Vann received 15 months credit for the time he was in jail awaiting trial and was released in 2013. Despite both incidents, Texas officials deemed him a low risk for violence. In a recent interview, Vann’s ex-wife, who asked not to be named, cited that she had not known Vann to be violent. The woman that happens to be 29 years older than Vann went on to add that she knew a different kind of man, one who was friendly, protective and not abusive. However her adult son had a different view of Darren Vann. Vann’s ex-wife’s son says he was “creepy” and “strange.

Afrikka Hardy
Afrikka Hardy

Vann, who is housed in Lake County Jail, located in Crown Point, IN is being charged with one murder however, other charges are said to be forthcoming. Lake County Jail is the pre-trial detention facility for those awaiting trial but unable to make bail arrangements. Gary and Hammond, Indiana are the cities in which the women’s bodies were located, and both fall within Lake County boundaries. A reliable source within the jail indicates that there had been a buzz among the female residents of the jail in recent months about the disappearance of several area women as well as to whom the culpability may fall. Through the pods and cells of the women’s jail, ladies would speak of missing relatives and friends many of whom had chosen prostitution as a means of survival.

Since his arrest, Darren Vann had been cooperating with authorities. During his interrogation Vann told investigators of the locations of victim’s bodies throughout the abandoned buildings in Gary.  However, Vann’s cooperation ended recently at a magistrate hearing at Lake County Jail. Vann stood stone-faced and refused to acknowledge Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan as she asked the defendant basic questions regarding his name and his ability to understand his

Anith Jones
Anith Jones

charges. In response the accused stood stoically, non-respondent to the questions posed to him by the judge. Sullivan then addressed Vann’s public defender, Matthew Fech, urging him to “tell your client that he stays in jail the rest of his life until this hearing takes place.” Ultimately, Vann was held in contempt and the hearing rescheduled for the following week

As we mentioned earlier there had been talk among area residents concerning several disappearances. In The Darker Side of Evil, we use the term, “throwaway people.” Individuals that society cares not to look at therefore are hardly missed if they disappear. The accused, Darren Deon Vann; took advantage of law enforcement’s lackadaisical approach to following up on missing person’s reports. We have human beings vanish from the face of the earth and no one willing to take the time and effort to look at the evidence in front of them to find them. We’ve seen this time and time again. Andre Crawford terrorized Chicago’s Englewood area in the 1990’s. In addition to similar M.O.’s and circumstances, the killer also made use of abandoned residences.

On the other hand we cannot place the blame totally upon law enforcement. In a blink of an eye mothers, daughters, sisters and wives all gone; never to be heard from

Teaira Batey
Teaira Batey

again. If we take time to take an interest in the lives of one another this sort of crime would be impossible. Tupac Shakur once said, “How can the devil take a brother if he is close to me?” Some of these victim’s remains were mummified and skeletal meaning that they had been deceased for several months. People, let’s take time to reconnect with that estranged family member, distant cousin or long lost friend. Let them know that even though you may or may not agree with the way they are living their life; you still care. Inquire about that person you haven’t seen in a while. If we actively and aggressively keep tabs on people in our lives it reduces the likelihood of tragedies such as this occurring. Any information concerning people that we haven’t seen in a while should be forwarded to law enforcement.  Let’s assist these families in receiving closure for their missing loved ones.




Serial Murder Revisit Roseland Community


The Roseland community in Chicago has had more than their share of serial murder over the years. The new millennium brought to light the serial murderer Geoffrey T. Griffin.  From July of 1998 to July 2000, Griffin used the neighborhoods of the Roseland area of Chicago as his personal killing fields. In a modus operandi familiar among African American serial killers, Geoffrey Griffin would lure area streetwalkers to abandoned buildings in lieu of receiving drugs or cash. Once inside, Griffin would rape then murder his victims. Arrested on June 17, 2000, he was subsequently charged with eight murders and 1 aggravated criminal sexual assaultMany of his charges stem from bodies found long after his arrest.

On September 22, 2005, Judge Fred Suria convicted Griffin of killing Angela Jones after watching a videotape in which he described how he squeezed Jones’ throat during sex after the two smoked crack cocaine.  Judge Suria acquitted him of killing Beverly Burns even though the man’s shirt and jacket were spattered with her blood. The judge said that he was troubled by the lack of evidence at the crime scene against Griffin and by the fact that there was no blood of the victim at the scene. Griffin was sentenced to 100 years in prison on November 06, 2005. Trials for the other murders are forthcoming.

In 2010, serial murder returned to Roseland. Michael Johnson, a 24 year old Roseland resident was arrested on May 22, 2010 and charged with three counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of criminal sexual assault.  Johnson’s DNA was taken and said to have matched at least four unsolved murders in the area. Currently held in Cook County Department of Corrections on no bond, Johnson now 27 is being investigated for additional murders in the Roseland community.

The premise and purpose of writing and publishing, “The Darker Side of Evil,” was to enlighten society of the existence of Black serial killers as well as to advise African-American communities of these predator’s abilities to hide and operate in plain sight.  As usual the victims of these crimes were women. More specifically, women labeled nightwalkers or prostitutes that take to life on the streets by virtue of drug addiction.  Drug addicts and prostitutes are viewed by some as people whose behavior brought their fate upon themselves.  In my book, I pointed that society views these people as “throwaways,” people that society has basically given up on and truthfully wish would fall from the face of the earth anyway.

WE MUST CHANGE THE WAY WE VIEW EACH OTHER. The only time society seems to feel any level of empathy is when a problem affects us directly. We as a civilized society must change our judgmental views of each other and begin to care for something outside of ourselves. The devil cannot exist and operate if we keep an eye out for the well-being of the people around us. He thrives on our selfishness and inability to concern with the issues of the people we see and interact with daily. As long as we continue to do what we’ve always done, we will continue to get what we’ve always gotten.

The Speck That Wouldn’t Go Away

Have you ever had a speck that wouldn’t go away? Whether it’s in your eye or on your shirt it can be a bothersome nuisance. Let’s take a look at how an early morning traveler from the 60’s in Chicago handles such a problem.

It was 3:00 a.m. Thursday July 14, 1966 and the humidity in Chicago was nearly unbearable. Barely coherent, Richard staggered down the street and came to rest at a bus stop. “The bitch,” Richard uttered to himself, but then a thought came, “which bitch am I talking about?” He chuckled to himself as he counted the number of people throughout his life that could aptly wear that moniker. Settling on his ex-wife for now, he mumbled “She couldn’t even wait for the ink to dry before gallivanting off with that weasel,” Richard recalled how his ex-wife was remarried in less than two days after their divorce was finalized.  Richard flopped down upon a bus stop bench and attempted to convey the reason for his current state of drunkenness to a man waiting at the bus stop. Attempting to look concerned, yet secretly hoping the tall intoxicated man would leave, the man sharing the bus stop bench listened to Richard’s drunken banter.

The warm Chicago air only exasperated Richard’s intoxicated condition has he rattled on to his unwilling audience about his life as a merchant marine. “I came up to leave on the SS Sinclair Great Lakes, but they gave the job to some punk ahead of me!” Richard said with slurred speech. The man had to admit, the stories were entertaining, at first; he then became nervous when Richard told of his troubles while living in Dallas, Texas. Soon the weary traveler became down right uncomfortable when Richard told him of his exploits of the last few hours.

“My sister and brother in law dropped me off up here at the National Maritime Union (NMU), hiring hall for a job, she gave me  $25 and split; I left and walked east on 100th St. and got a room at the Shipyard Inn,” Richard told the leery listener.  Looking into the night sky as if he could see himself, he then told the man how he and others began to slam shots of whiskey at the bar. Suddenly Richard stopped talking and stood stoic for a few seconds. “That’s when she came in,” he said after the silence. “Who came in?” The bus stop man asked Richard.  He paused to recall her name, “Ella, Ella Mae I think her name was,” Richard responded loudly and flopped onto the bus stop bench as if the thought exhausted him. “The bitch flirted with me from the time she came in,” he said as his blank look of drunkenness was now replaced with an evil sneer. Gone too was the stuttering and stammering of a babbling drunk. In its place was a man ready to tell a tale of true depravity to a captivated audience of one.

“She had been watching me and flirting the whole time,” Richard said as he lit a cigarette. “I told her that I had a bottle in my room and invited her to have a nightcap with me,” he continued. “She thought she was going to drink my booze and leave.” “What did you do?” The man asked with renewed interest. With a facial expression that can only be described as sheer evil, Richard told the man in full detail how he pressed his knife to her throat and raped the woman repeatedly. He also told the man how he rummaged through her purse and took the woman’s 22 caliber revolver before he callously threw the woman out of his room.

The man stared at Richard with a look of sheer amazement. Questioning if Richard had been lying to him the whole time, he wondered if his common sense was simply being put to the test.  He thought to himself, “is this guy some type of jokester, using me to simply while away the time as they waited for the early morning bus?”  He watched Richard’s face hoping to see some indication of truth or at least the slightest hint of prankery.  Instead, what he saw was a cold soulless gaze. Any shadow of disbelief would soon be erased from the man’s mind as his Richard continued the story of that night’s activities.

“After I gave that bitch the what for, I was fuckin hungry,” Richard said with an air of bravado.  “I grabbed supper from Kay’s Pilot House and returned to the tavern.”

“While I was at the bar,                I saw a group of young girls heading up 100th street,” Richard said has he stood and pointed.  Richard explained to the man how the girl’s laughed and giggled as they made their way up the darkened street to their townhouse. “I crouched down in the bushes across the street and watched them,” he said as he demonstrated his stance. “I started to masturbate in the bushes as I watched them undress in the window,” he said proudly. “Then they started talking to me, they sent messages to my head to come over; I could hear them in my head calling my name”. As he spoke, the captive listener could hear another distinct change in Richard’s speaking voice. The storyteller’s tone became one of utter disdain and hatred for the subjects in his tale.  As Richard spoke, the listener now recognized the psychosis in the man that had held his attention for so long; even worse, he realized that every word of his story was the absolute truth. Worried about seeming inattentive and turning Richard against him; the man acted more attentive than ever.

Oblivious to the man’s anxiety, Richard continued his story with a sense of renewed vigor, “I ran across the street, man I’m telling you, they were talking to me straight into my brain, and I knew it was them.  The broads told me to use the window so that’s what I did, I only wanted to burglarize the joint but the chics were in my head telling me how they wanted me.”  Richard then pulled out a knife and illustrated his next move, “The first chic screamed and played dumb, so I gutted the whore with my blade. The next broad came in so I choked the shit out of her, that’ll teach them about playing with people’s minds.” The man, now frightened to the core, sat wide eyed and speechless. Fully engrossed into the reenactment of his wickedness, Richard continued for at least another 20 minutes with his street side testimony. He explained in full detail how he took the lives of seven nursing students.  Richard concluded his monologue with the vivid description of his violent sexual assault, torture and murder of the eighth young woman to die at his hand that night

The sun was beginning to come up as Richard closed the story with the man. Not knowing what to say; truthfully afraid to say anything the man simply sat and looked and Richard. He then began to crack a smile as he hoped on all that is holy that Richard had simply made the whole story up. He was just about to commend Richard on his story telling ability when he heard a blood curdling scream followed by “They’re all dead! All my friends are dead!” The man turned to where he heard the scream. In the distance he could see a woman running and waving her arms wildly. At that moment the man froze, it dawned on him that he had just listened to the confession of a heinous murderer. A question arose in the man’s mind. “Is this guy about to kill me too?  Afraid to turn around but refusing to die from an attack to the back, he whipped around.

Astonishingly, the man was gone, the only thing remaining was the stench of old alcohol and dried blood. The early morning summer sunrise glistened off of the bus stop sign; a sign that read, ”no service between Midnight and 6 a.m. Aghast, the man stood mesmerized that for the better part of 3 hours, a guy named Richard had given him a confession of his murderous rampage and was now gone. The man abandoned his travel plans and returned home. When his wife asked him what had happened and where had he been, the man simply replied, “I had a Speck that wouldn’t go away!”

Richard Speck Early
Richard Speck