When people do desperate and risky things to make a living, this often puts in them in the line of danger.
In this case, an escort in Northwestern Indiana was murdered by a serial killer.
Darren Deon Vann ordered an escort through an online site called BackPage.com and set up a meeting between himself and 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy at a Motel 6 in the town of Hammond.
In this post, I discuss the escort murder case and the inter-connectivity of it, the 20-25 missing persons case calls that come into our office each week, and what to ask of a potential PI when considering hiring one for a missing persons case.
The meeting was set up through a third party. When the third party started to receive strange texts that she thought were coming from Vann, she became worried about Ms. Hardy and went to the motel to check on her. It was there that they found her body in a bathtub. She’d been strangled to death.
Police were able to use the number provided to them from the facilitator of the liaison in order to track down Vann. They got a search warrant for the vehicle they believed he used when he went to the motel, as well as for his home. This led them to clothing that was similar to that of the man who they saw on a security camera leaving the motel. They found the same type of condoms that were in the hotel, and a cell phone that matched a description of his.
A button on Vann’s shirt was also missing. Police had a matching button they had discovered in the motel room.
When questioned, Vann said that he had “messed up”. He was also surprised that the police were able to find him so quickly. He admitted to what happened in the motel room, saying that Hardy resisted when the sex became too rough.
He grew angry and then strangled her with his hands at first, and then with an extension cord.
Vann then told police that this was not his first victim, and he started to lead them to other bodies around the Gary area. He took them to abandoned homes around the vicinity and showed them six more bodies. Thus far, police have identified three of the women – Christine Williams, Teaira Batey, and Anith Jones. Jones had been missing since October 8.
Not all of the victims were escorts.
The fact that Jones had been missing for only a couple of days, and that Hardy was murdered so recently could indicate that the killer was escalating and becoming more active toward the end. It also shows that he was probably getting sloppier. In fact, this could have been what he meant when he said that he had messed up. Perhaps he didn’t mean he messed up killing the woman, but that he’d messed up by not being careful enough.
Missing persons cases back in the spotlight
With more of these women waiting for identification, and the possibility of other victims in Vann’s spate of killings, many in Indiana, and other areas where Vann has lived in the past, are looking at missing person’s cases with a fresh eye and seeing if there could be any connections. It’s too early to tell right now whether Vann could have connections to other murders, and it does no good to jump to conclusions. However, people are hoping for closure for families missing their loved ones.
The subject matter of a “missing person” means different things to the public and the private investigator community. It first must be established, if possible, is this a missing person case, runaway and if harm or kidnapping actually occurred.
We have four offices in Southern California, the heart of where people throughout the United States and many foreign countries migrate when they what to disappear or remove themselves from mainstream American or life in general. The situation is also exacerbated by the thousands of minors and adults that travel here to become part of the vast entertainment community here in the Southland.
It is not uncommon for us to received 20-25 inquires a week about friends, relatives and associates who have gone missing. These calls are of three types:
- 80% – The vast majority of potential clients calling us about “missing persons” are looking for a subject who has “voluntarily” left their current life situation. Given this fact, it is totally understandable that the law enforcement community does not and can not put high priority on these cases.
- 15% – People looking for someone under the age of 18. This type of case is classified as a “runaway” and generally receives a high priority with law enforcement.
- 5% – The remainder of calls involve adults who are missing involuntarily and command interest from law enforcement. These are tough cases to work. The ending is usually heart-breaking for the family.
Law enforcement is overworked and underpaid. It is important you understand that in the adult and child missing person units of police departments throughout the United States there is a never ending flood of cases. You would probably be shocked to learn that many of these departments have no overtime to work these cases. So what does a family do?
First and foremost, don’t wait, as this is the number one error made by families. Who should your turn to? Fortunately, there are many world-class private investigators that stand ready to assist families in their search. The problem is finding them. Once found, what is the secret to these cases? Hire someone who conceptually understands there many important factors but two are critical. Do not be shy in asking a PI you are interviewing how they plan to accomplish these two critical steps.
First, what is the plan and how long will it take to get your case out of the stack of files and to the head of the pile with the police who have jurisdiction in your matter?
Second, what is the “call” and “hook” to get this case in front of the media? If the PI can’t answer these questions directly and with specificity, then move on.
If you are having difficult finding a PI in your area, please call our toll-free number below and we will make every effort to assist you at no charge and as a professional courtesy.