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Marine Corps booted suspected Indiana serial killer in 1993

An former Marine, who recently confessed to killing seven women in Indiana, was kicked out of the Marine Corps as a private in 1993 after fewer than two years of service.

Exactly why Darren Vann, 43, of Gary, Indiana, received an "other than honorable" discharge remains to be seen, but officials were emphatic that it summarizes the nature of his service.

"Mr. Vann's premature discharge and rank are indicative of the fact that the character of his service was incongruent with the Marine Corps' expectations and standards," said Yvonne Carlock, a spokeswoman for Manpwoer and Reserve Affairs. "Due to the associated administrative processes, further details are not releasable at this time."

Vann attended Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Marine Combat Training at Camp Pendleton, California. He earned his military occupation as a 7222 Hawk Missile System Operator at Fort Bliss, Texas, according to Manpower officials.

From July 1992 until September 1993, Vann was assigned to 3rd Light Antiaircraft Missile Battalion at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. During that time, he was also temporarily assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona.

Vann, a convicted sex offender, was arrested Saturday and charged with the strangulation death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy, whose body was found Friday in a bathtub at a Motel 6, 20 miles southeast of Chicago.

On Wednesday, he also was charged in the death of 35-year-old Anith Jones of Merrillville, Indiana, whose body was found in an abandoned house Saturday night in Gary.

Five more bodies were found Sunday in other homes, said Hammond Police Chief John Doughty, who identified two of the women as Gary residents Teaira Batey, 28, and Kristine Williams, 36. Police have not determined the identities of the other three women, including two whose bodies were found on the same block where Jones' body was found Saturday.

Vann appeared before an Indiana judge Wednesday, and refused to even acknowledge his name. A sheriff explained later that the suspect was upset his hearing was in open court before dozens of journalists.

The judge asked Vann if he understood the reason for the hearing in the strangulation death of Hardy. But Vann stood unmoving and stone-faced, staring back silently at the judge.

"Mr. Vann, are you choosing not to take part in this hearing?" Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan asked Vann, wearing striped jail garb and with his wrists and legs shackled and flanked by two Lake County Jail guards at the lockup in Crown Point.

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."

Vann's public defender walked up to Vann and put his hand on his shoulder, encouraging him to speak. But he again offered no response. The judge then found him in contempt and said she would schedule another initial hearing for next week.

Investigators in Indiana and Texas, where Vann also lived, have been poring over cold case files and missing person reports to determine if there are more victims. Buncich said Wednesday his staff has fielded called worried family members "from all over the Midwest" about whether their relatives could be among Vann's victims.

Vann was convicted in 2009 of raping a woman in his Austin, Texas, apartment. He was released from prison last year and moved back to Indiana. 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.

In both cases, the charges against Vann were reduced in plea bargains, and Texas officials deemed him a low risk for violence. Vann registered as a sex offender in Indiana and police made a routine check in September that he lived at the address he provided.

Sherriff Buncich said he wished registered sex offenders, like Vann, could be monitored more closely than they are but that budgetary and legal constraints make that difficult.

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