- The Washington Times - Monday, October 20, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This is a lesson for us all, even those of us who do not live in Indiana or claim to be a Hoosier.

She was only 19 and reportedly a prostitute.

He is 43, a convicted sex offender and reportedly has already confessed to killing her. He also might be connected to a crime spree older than she was.

If he had not been found, arrested and jailed, his case could have been the perfect storyline for “Law and Order SUV,” or “Criminal Minds” or perhaps even one of TV land’s newest crime-solving shows, “How to Get Away with Murder,” which stars Oscar-nominee Viola Davis. The possibility still holds as the real-life case unfolds.

One of the most interesting facts of the case is that all of the women he, Darren Deon Vann is suspected of killing are black — at least so far. We hear about black women missing and/or being murdered all the time, but linking a serial killer to them in a relatively small city like Gary, Indiana, just doesn’t make the 24-hour news cycle these days.

Hard by Lake Michigan and only a 25-mile drive from downtown Chicago, Gary was a thriving steel town that once was home to more blacks than any other U.S. city with a population of more than 100,000. It’s where Joseph and Katherine Jackson raised their talented brood and why Michael Jackson’s unmistakable falsetto led the way on “Goin’ Back to Indiana” and “2300 Jackson Street.” Dad Joe worked in the steel mills before the Jackson 5 gained Motown fame. Gary’s population peaked at 178,320 in 1960, but today it barely has 78,000 residents and is now part of the Rust Belt with foreclosed, empty, rotting single homes in some areas as common as neat occupied single-family homes.

It was on a rundown, overgrown property where Afrikka Hardy’s body was found. She apparently had a go-between who told her how to meet up with her suspected killer at a Motel 6. Nobody knows for certain what all happened later, but police disclosed that her killer confessed that he “messed” up by killing her.

Wonder if he meant he didn’t mean to kill her in Indiana, which has and levels the death penalty. He has told police where six other bodies could be found, and said there are still more.

Other than finding additional potential victims and finding out why he did what he did, the most intriguing fact at this juncture is that there were no missing-persons reports filed on some of the victims.

How can that be?

How could her family, friends and “coworkers” have been so mute?

How can police be so certain about the missing-persons reports?

Authorities were tipped off about the disappearance of Miss Hardy over the weekend, when an acquaintance called the cops after receiving mysterious text messages from her. The police followed up and found Miss Hardy’s body with the life strangled out of it, and the other victims appear to have died under similar circumstances.

We also do not yet know whether the other victims were raped or sexually assaulted or battered.

But this we know: Just because a girl or woman is a prostitute doesn’t mean we should turn a blind eye.

We’ll learn before week’s end more about Miss Hardy, and her killer’s trials, travels and travails. We might even find out that law enforcers have connected more dots to the serial killer, and if he’s been traversing the country.

The suspect “has indicated that there may be many other victims, including those in other states,” CBS-2 in Chicago reported.

That’s in addition to the seven victims he already has claimed as his.

That means you know what to do, right?

That means you’ve learned to reach out to your estranged wife, daughter, sister, niece or friend — the one who is “missing” and known or suspected to be a prostitute.

Do it.

Just do it.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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