Darren Vann may be another Texas serial killer



The Amelia Island, Fla., Museum of History is located in the old Nassau County Jail, which still has one or two of its jail cells. (Marjie Lambert/Miami Herald/MCT)

Alaynna Glover, Reporter

Darren Vann, who authorities say is a serial killer, has been charged with five new counts of murder and ten other crimes, including rape, attempted murder, and criminal confinement, and now may be faced with the death penalty. Is he another Texas serial killer roaming the state?


Vann was initially arrested and charged in 2014 for the murder of Afrikka Hardy and Anith Jones. He confessed to the murders of seven women and led the police to their bodies, all of which were five miles apart from each other. Vann had an initial court appearance related to Hardy’s killing on the morning of October 22, 2014, but was held in contempt of court when he refused to answer the judge’s questions.


There is much more that is not known publicly about Vann. What is known is that Vann was born in Indiana but did not stay there his whole life. Records, for example, show he was arrested on unspecified charges while living in Cherry Point, North Carolina in 1993. It was in the 1990s that Edward Matlock first got to know Vann. Vann had married Matlock’s mother, who was about 30 years older than Vann.


Matlock said he was not comfortable or happy with his mother’s marriage, which lasted 16 years. Part of it had to do with the age difference between the couple, but then there were Matlock’s observations. Vann talked to himself or sometimes seemed lost in thought, in addition to stories he heard about Vann spending time in a rough part of Austin, Texas, where the pair had moved.


Vann had his first major brush with the law in April 2004 with a woman who police described as Vann’s girlfriend. According to authorities, Vann threatened to burn down or blow up the home of a man who he believed was sheltering his girlfriend. Then, in front of police, he grabbed his girlfriend and told the police to back up or he would burn himself and the girlfriend. Vann was charged with a class D felony, and spent 90 days behind bars after his conviction.


At some point after his release, Vann went back to Austin. That is where, in December 2007, he was arrested again, this time for aggravated sexual assault. He pleaded guilty in September 2009 and sentenced to five years in prison. He was released on July 5, 2013. However, he did not stay out of jail for long.


After being registered as a sex offender in prison, he then told officials there that he would move back to Gary, Indiana. Texas authorities alerted their colleagues in Indiana, that Vann was to be considered a “low risk” sex offender. Based on experts’ assessment, it was likely that he would commit another sexual offense.


In the 15 months since Vann left Texas, police said, Vann killed seven women, with six of their bodies found in some of the estimated 10,000 abandoned structures in Gary.

After Hardy was found strangled in a Motel 6 bathtub, authorities used cellular phone records to track down Vann, along with the blue Jeep he’d been driving. Vann also had Hardy’s pink phone and other potentially key pieces of evidence.


Five new charges under came about a year later after the initial confessing of the murder of seven women, all similar circumstances. The alleged female victims are Teaira Batey, Kristine Wiliams, Sonya Billingsley, Tanya Gatlin and Tracy Morgan. Vann met the women through an escort service and most were left in vacant buildings. Lake County prosecutors said Vann killed sometimes when sex became too rough, calling it a “rage killing”. Now, he will be faced with the death penalty, bringing justice to the murder of the seven women.