Afrikka Hardy Update: Death Sought for Darren Vann, Ex-Auroran's Alleged Killer
A Facebook photo of the late Afrikka Hardy. Additional photos, plus videos and more below.
At the time, authorities believed that Vann may also have been responsible for the murders of six additional women, making him a serial killer.
Months later, Vann has only been charged with slaying two women: Hardy and Anith Jones. And while the beginning of his trial in those cases has been delayed, the reason isn't due to new information that might exonerate him.
Instead, the start date was pushed back because prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty against him.
Continue for photos, videos and Vann's probable cause affidavit, also included here. Note that the details may disturb some readers.
Loria Townsend and Afrikka Hardy.
As we've reported, Hardy had lived in Aurora for five years before heading back to her previous home of Indiana. Her mom, Loria Townsend, who was understandably heartbroken by the startling turn of events, told Fox31 that Hardy was four months pregnant.
The aforementioned police documents say detectives were dispatched to a Hammond, Indiana Motel 6 at around 9:25 p.m. on October 17, 2014.
In one of the facility's rooms, Hardy's body was found in a bathtub. She was naked, and there was what appeared to be a black piece of clothing covering her arms.
In addition, the fabric wrapped around her neck, which sported visible red marks, suggesting that "she had been strangled with something thin," the report says.
Her body had droplets of water on it.
The Motel 6 where Hardy lost her life.
Nearby, investigators found a broken fingernail, a light colored button from a shirt, a torn condom wrapper, a white purse and a pillow beside the toilet with what looked to be blood on it.
Shortly thereafter, detectives spoke with Shameeka Cunningham, who said she, Hardy and a third woman had started an escort business together, advertising on Backpage.com, a site that was previously associated with Westword''s parent company, although that relationship ended several years ago.
In the ads, Hardy was identified using the names "Octavia" or "Ms. Youngin'."
On the evening in question, Hardy was contacted by a man who called himself "Big Boy Appetite." She met him at the motel, and when Hardy went past what's described as "the normal time for such an appointment," Cunningham texted her — and received a response she said didn't make sense.
She then tried calling, and when Hardy didn't answer, she and Eduardo Ayon, a man she'd called for help, gained access to the room. Inside, they found Hardy's body in the tub, with the shower still running.
Authorities subsequently traced Big Boy Appetite's response to the online ad to Vann, who is said to have been seen in surveillance footage from the Motel 6.
After obtaining a search warrant for Vann's home, law enforcers found condoms of the same type as the wrapper found at the crime scene, a cell phone that matched the description of the one Hardy owned, and a shirt missing a button.
Under interrogation, Vann admitted that he'd had sex with Hardy, the affidavit points out. He's subsequently quoted as saying that after things got "rough" and Hardy started hitting him, he "strangled the woman first with his hands and then with a cord before placing her body in the bathtub."
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From there, the inquiry moved quickly, with authorities soon discovering an additional six bodies, including that of Anith Jones, in abandoned buildings across the Indiana city of Gary. Vann has reportedly confessed to killing all the women, but at this writing, he's only been charged with taking the lives of Hardy and Jones
According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, Vann's trial was expected to get underway on June 22. But last week, prosecutors formally told the judge overseeing the matter that they plan to seek the death penalty against Vann. He's next due in court on May 22; no new trial date has been set.
Look below to see two booking photos of Vann, followed by two reports from October — a case overview from ABC and a CNN piece about a court appearance during which Vann refused to speak.
After that, find the probable cause affidavit.