Police Search Abandoned Homes in Northwest Indiana

Officials have been searching abandoned homes in Gary, Indiana, for more victims of a suspected serial killer as they prepare to demolish thousands of vacant buildings.

While it remains unclear if there are in fact more victims, officials said they were checking the buildings slated for demolition to ensure that they are vacant.

Police say Darren D. Vann led police on a bloody scavenger hunt in Northwest Indiana, pointing them to bodies of several of his alleged victims scattered in basements and empty, run-down buildings, authorities said.

“We're getting calls from all over the country from relatives of missing individuals so we're trying to forward everything,” said Lake County Sheriff John Buncich. “In my 40 years of law enforcement, this is the worst I’ve seen.”

Police have connected Vann, 43, to seven victims and “we have no idea how many more” are out there, one detective said. Vann allegedly admitted to killings dating back 20 years.

Prosecutors charged him with murder and robbery Monday afternoon in connection with 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy’s death.

Gary police said Tuesday they were searching dozens of abandoned homes in the area.

“I have dispatched a team of officers along with a cadaver dog to the Glen Park and Mid-town sections of the city,” Police Chief Larry McKinley said in a statement. “The purpose of the search is to ensure that the structures are completely vacant, get them boarded up and place them on the list for demolition.”

Officials said a team of roughly 20 officers and a cadaver dog combed the areas of the 4300 blocks of Broadway, Massachusetts and Connecticut streets and the 2200 block of Massachusetts. They were expected to continue to search a four-block radius throughout the afternoon.

They had cleared more than 90 homes as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to authorities.

“We need our residents to feel safe and for them to know that their police department is out on the streets taking the measures to ensure this,” McKinley said.

While there's been much focus on the many vacant homes where the bodies were stashed, one resident says that's not the problem.

“If there weren’t the abandoned buildings, with the mindset he has, he still would’ve did what did,” said resident Andrea Watkins.

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