TIME Crime

Police: Indiana Suspect Hints at More Killings

Darren Vann is a suspect in the slayings of seven women whose bodies were found in northwestern Indiana over the weekend.
Darren Vann is a suspect in the slayings of seven women whose bodies were found in northwestern Indiana over the weekend. Texas Department of Criminal Justice/AP

(GARY, Ind.) — Police investigating the slayings of seven northwestern Indiana women whose bodies were found over the weekend said Monday it could be the work of a serial killer, and that the suspect has told them his victims might go back 20 years.

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said at a news conference that the suspect is 43-year-old Darren Vann of nearby Gary, Indiana, who was convicted of a sex offense in Texas in 2009. His confession to the slaying of a woman in Hammond led police to the grisly discovery of six other bodies in Gary, including three in on the same block, authorities said.

He said the Gary slayings appear to have happened recently, though Vann indicated there could be earlier victims. He said police are not actively looking for more bodies and have no indication that any murders have occurred in another state. He said Vann is cooperating with investigators in the hope of making a deal with prosecutors.

“It could go back as far as 20 years, based on some statements we have, but that has yet to be corroborated,” Doughty said.

Charges were expected to be filed later Monday in the death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy, whose body was found about 9:30 p.m. Friday at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Doughty said. The Lake County coroner’s office said she was strangled.

Doughty said she was involved in prostitution and had arranged to meet Vann at the motel through a Chicago-area website. Police were called by someone who attempted to reach Hardy and “was provided suspicious text responses that she believed to be from the suspect while he was still inside the motel room.”

Police said they took Vann into custody Saturday afternoon after obtaining a search warrant for a home and vehicle in Gary.

Vann allegedly confessed to killing Hardy, then told investigators where more bodies could be found in abandoned homes in Gary, a deteriorating former steel town about 30 miles southeast of Chicago, police said.

Police found the body of 35-year-old Anith Jones of Merrillville, Indiana, on Saturday night in an abandoned home. She had been missing since Oct. 8.

Five more bodies were found on Sunday in other homes, said Doughty, who identified two of the women as Gary residents Teairra Batey, 28, and Christine 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 on Saturday.

Hardy’s mother, Lori Townsend, said police told her that Vann asked that she perform a certain sex act, and “when she said ‘no’ and put up a fight, he snapped and strangled her,” she said, speaking from her home in Colorado. “This man is sick.”

Hardy graduated from high school in late 2013 and planned to go on to college to study music, Townsend said.

“She was full of life. She lit up a room with her smile and her beauty,” she said. “And she had a voice like a songbird.”

Gary, once a thriving steel town of 178,000 where thousands worked in the mills, has been struggling for decades. Its population has shrunk to just over 78,000 and its poverty rate hovers around 40 percent. Thousands of homes are abandoned, many with weeds choking broken sidewalks — often on the same streets where other homes are tidy and well-kept.

One of the houses where police found a body was overgrown with trees in the front and there was trash strewn in the back of what looked like a falling down garage or shed.

On Monday, people in Gary tried to make sense of the tragedy.

“That’s devastating. That’s sick,” said Jay Jackson, 25, a health care worker visiting a woman a few houses from where one of the bodies was found. “All we can do is pray for the city and hope for recovery.”

TIME Crime

Indiana Authorities ID Suspected Serial Killer in Custody

Darren Vann is a suspect in the slayings of seven women whose bodies were found in northwestern Indiana over the weekend.
Darren Vann is a suspect in the slayings of seven women whose bodies were found in northwestern Indiana over the weekend. Texas Department of Criminal Justice/AP

Seven bodies found over the weekend

Authorities on Monday identified the suspect held in connection with seven bodies that were found across northwest Indiana over the weekend.

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said in a press conference on Monday that Darren Vann, 43, of Gary, was detained after officers discovered the strangled body of a 19-year-old woman in a motel on Friday evening. Vann, who Doughty said was a convicted sex offender in Texas, had solicited Afrika Hardy in a “pay-for-service prostitution scheme” through a website.

“He admitted his involvement in the Hammond incident and had expressed an interest in notifying police of other criminal incidents he was involved with,” Doughty said, specifically about six more female victims in Gary.

One of those victims was Anith Jones, 35, who had been missing since Oct. 8 and whose body was discovered Saturday night. Five more bodies were discovered on Sunday, according to NBC Chicago, with two victims identified as Teairra Batey, 28, and Christine Williams, 36.

Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. posted on Facebook before the press conference that the suspect was an “admitted serial killer” and “convicted sexual offender,” who “admitted to a couple of homicides in Hammond back in 94 or 95.”

TIME Education

Planned Parenthood Thinks It Found a Way to Stop Middle Schoolers from Having Sex

It's all about sex-ed that moves outside the classroom

Planned Parenthood is touting a new study that found its middle school sex education program successfully delays sex for both boys and girls by the end of 8th grade by encouraging more talk about the subject between students and their parents outside the classroom.

The study, conducted by the Wellesley Centers for Women in partnership with Planned Parenthood, evaluated the Get Real program in 24 schools in the Boston area over the course of three years. The curriculum spans sixth through eighth grade and has students pair lessons in school with take-home assignments designed to start dialogues between them and their parents or caregivers. Of the 24 schools in the study, half used Get Real and half used their usual sexual education curriculum; 16% fewer boys and 15% fewer girls had sex in the schools using the Get Real curriculum. The study was published in the Journal of School Health.

“Awkward as this might be for some, Get Real makes it a little less awkward and easier to have these conversations,” said Lisa Grace, a parent in a Massachusetts school district using Get Real.

Along with highlighting parents as the primary sexual educators for their children, Get Real also focuses on relationship skills as an avenue for sexual health.

“If kids are able to negotiate relationships, they will be better able to negotiate sexual relationships,” said Jennifer Slonaker, a vice president of education and training for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Get Real is currently taught in 150 schools in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Texas. Planned Parenthood representatives hope the program’s success can be replicated on a larger national scale, even in more conservative states.

“The curriculum does not espouse values,” said Grace, the mother in Massachusetts. “It makes it very clear that the parents should continue to be the primary sexual educators for their kids. So that reassured a lot of folks.”

“This is a program for older elementary and early middle school students that helps young people to delay having sex,” said Leslie Kantor, a vice president for education at Planned Parenthood. “So even states that stress abstinence… might be very interested in this type of program since it actually gets to these abstinence kind of outcomes.”

 

TIME Crime

Virginia Woman First to Be Charged Under New Revenge Porn Law

She and the victim were allegedly fighting over a boyfriend

A Virginia woman who allegedly posted a naked photograph of her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend has become the first person to be charged under the state’s revenge porn law.

Waynesboro police say Rachel Lynn Craig, 28, admitted she took the image of the 22-year old victim off her ex-boyfriend’s phone and posted it to Facebook. The victim says she took the picture herself and sent it to her boyfriend, and that his ex (the accused) stole the photo and posted it on Facebook. Craig is being charged with one misdemeanor count of “maliciously disseminating a videographic or still image of another person in totally or partially nude state with the intent to coerce, harass or intimidate,” which is what the state of Virginia calls “revenge porn.”

MORE: A New Strategy for Prosecuting Revenge Porn

Virginia passed the new law earlier this year, and it went into effect on July 1. The law stipulates that anybody who disseminates nude or semi-nude content with intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate faces a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Virginia is one of many states to enact revenge porn laws as unauthorized distribution of photos becomes more common. Since 2013, California, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, have also enacted laws to fight revenge porn.

No court date is set in Craig’s case and she hasn’t commented publicly.

TIME Courts

Justices Will Decide Privacy Case on Hotel Records

(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court agreed Monday to referee a dispute over police access to hotels’ guest information without first getting a search warrant.

The justices said they will hear an appeal by the city of Los Angeles of a lower court ruling that struck down an ordinance that requires hotel operators to open their guest registries at the demand of police.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco divided 7-4 in ruling that the ordinance violates the privacy rights of the hotels, but not their guests.

Courts in other parts of the country have upheld similar laws.

Cities argue that the ordinances help fight prostitution and illegal gambling, aid in the pursuit of fugitives and even could be a tool to track suspects following a terrorist attack.

Los Angeles has said the ordinance makes prostitutes and drug dealers less likely to use hotels if they know that the facilities must collect information about guests and make them available to police on a moment’s notice.

Judge Paul Watford wrote for the appeals court that the records are a hotel’s private property and “the hotel has the right to exclude others from prying into the contents of its records.”

In dissent, Judge Richard Clifton said that courts previously have ruled that hotel guests have no expectation of privacy in records of their names and room numbers. “A guest’s information is even less personal to the hotel than it is to the guest,” Clifton said.

The argument in the case known as Los Angeles v. Patel, 13-1175, will take place in the winter, with a decision expected by late June.

TIME Football

Football Players Recall Abusive Hazing at New Jersey High School

Football Team Investigation
Residents of Sayreville gather for an anti-bullying rally Oct. 12, 2014, in Sayreville, N.J. Mel Evans—AP

One said the backlash from reporting the incident “made me want to shoot myself”

Older players on a New Jersey high school football team that has drawn national headlines for a hazing scandal allegedly pinned younger players to the floor and punched, kicked and sexually groped their bodies, according to a new report.

The New York Times, citing interviews with victims and multiple witnesses, provides new detail to the scandal that has cost Sayreville War Memorial High School its football season and has led seven varsity football players to be arrested. One victim said he was penetrated from behind by a finger. But there are conflicting accounts and some said they didn’t consider the hazing abusive.

The victims told the Times that they continued to suffer from abuse and taunts on social media for reporting the attacks, and one said the backlash “made me want to shoot myself.”

The team’s season was cancelled this month.

Read more at the Times

 

TIME 2014 Election

Voters Say Events in U.S. ‘Out of Control’

Poll finds anxiety on a range of issues, from Ebola to health care costs

Call it the Freakout Election.

Two-thirds of likely voters in the most competitive states and congressional districts in the midterm election fight think events in the U.S. are “out of control,” according to a new poll. The survey by Politico found widespread anxiety about the Ebola outbreak, terrorism, health care costs and President Barack Obama’s leadership. Only 36% think the U.S. is “in a good position to meet its economic and national security” challenges.

The poll underscores how both Obama’s low approval ratings and a general sense of disarray are weighing down Democrats just weeks before voters go to the polls to decide which party will control the Senate. A majority of voters, 54%, either strongly disapprove or somewhat disapprove of Obama’s job performance.

Read more at Politico

TIME

Quiz: How Does Your City Affect Your Happiness?

Answer these 13 questions and find out

Happy CityIn his book Happy City, Charles Montgomery offers evidence that where you live has a powerful effect on how you feel. From our commutes to our neighbors and our daily routines, where we choose to live can influence our feelings in ways most of us never imagine.

mcgill_logoThe following quiz will ask you 13 questions about your life. After answering each one, you’ll see how thousands of others have answered the same question. This survey will help us reveal new insights about the relationship between cities and happiness. All responses are completely anonymous.

The quiz was developed by Montgomery, Chris Barrington-Leigh of McGill University, along with TIME.

The data for average happiness scores will update as more readers take the survey. Current results based on 3,302 respondents. Data may also be used for a future study by Barrington-Leigh on happiness across the United States.

Read next: What Your Zip Code Says About You

TIME ebola

Second U.S. Nurse With Ebola Was ‘in No Way Careless’ by Flying, Family Says

Texas nurse Amber Vinson (L) steps from an ambulance at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta
Texas nurse Amber Vinson, left, steps from an ambulance at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., on Oct. 15, 2014. Stringer—Reuters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had given the green light for Amber Vinson to travel, claims her family

The family of the second nurse to contract Ebola in the U.S. says she was “in no way” careless in making the decision to fly to Dallas after her exposure to the disease.

Amber Vinson, 29, apparently decided to fly back to Dallas from Cleveland as a precaution, after she heard her colleague Nina Pham had been diagnosed with Ebola.

Both Vinson and Pham had cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the disease on Oct. 8.

“To be clear, in no way was Amber careless prior to or after her exposure to Mr. Thomas Eric Duncan. She has not and would not knowingly expose herself or anyone else,” Vinson’s family wrote in the statement.

According to the statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had given the green light for Vinson to travel. Her family says she had even asked to stay at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for the remainder of her 21-day monitoring period.

“Suggestions that she ignored any of the physician and government-provided protocols recommended to her are patently untrue and hurtful,” says the statement.

The family insists she followed CDC self-monitoring guidelines correctly and reported her temperature three times before boarding her flight, and each time the CDC cleared her to travel.

TIME Crime

Students Involved in Pumpkin Festival Riots May Be Expelled

Keene State College president Anne Huot said the rioters were not representative of the college's entire student body

New Hampshire’s Keene State College will take serious action against students who participated in recent riots, and may even expel some, according to a statement from college president Anne Huot.

College authorities are “actively working to identify the individuals who participated in unlawful behavior,” read the statement, and the most serious offenders would face “interim suspension, followed by conduct action up to, and including, expulsion.”

Thirty people were injured and 20 taken to the hospital on Sunday, as things got out of hand at the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival and police had to intervene. Officers made at least 12 arrests and had to resort to riot gear and tear gas to control the rowdy revelers — many of whom threw rocks, bottles and even overturned cars and uprooted street signs.

Huot stressed that the rioters are not representative of the Keene State College student body. “I am proud of the positive contributions that many of our students, faculty and staff offered to the community this weekend,” she added

In fact, the Associated Press reports that more than 200 student volunteers descended on the site later on Sunday to help clean up damage caused by the mob.

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