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Suspected Indiana serial killer faces new charges

This photo provided May 29, 2015 by the Lake County, Indiana, Sheriff’s Department shows Darren Vann of Gary, Indiana.

AP Photo/Lake County Sheriff's Office

CROWN POINT, Ind. -- An Indiana man who police say confessed to killing seven women was charged with murder Monday in five of the slayings and now faces the death penalty in each of the cases.

The Lake County Prosecutor's Office filed the charges against Darren Vann, 44, in the deaths of Teaira Batey, 28; Tracy Martin, 41; Kristine Williams, 36; Sonya Billingsley, 53; and Tanya Gatlin, 27. The women's bodies were found in 2014 in abandoned buildings in northwest Indiana.

Vann, of Gary, was already charged with murder in the strangulation deaths of Afrikka Hardy, 19, and Anith Jones, 35. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in all seven cases, The (Munster) Times reported.

darren-vannanith-jonesafrika-hardy.jpg

Darren Vann, left, Afrikka Hardy, top right and Anith Jones, bottom right.

CBS News

Police said shortly after the bodies were found that Vann had confessed to all seven killings. Calls to the prosecutor's office during business hours Monday went directly to a recording.

One of Vann's attorneys, Gojko Kasich, said he has not yet seen the court documents and could not comment on the new charges.

Vann was arrested Oct. 18, 2014, a day after Hammond officers found Hardy strangled to death inside a motel room. The other bodies were found in buildings across Gary.

Billingsley and Gatlin were the last two women to be identified, nearly four months after Vann's arrest.

Vann has pleaded not guilty in the Hardy and Jones deaths.

According to court records, a brown cord recovered by detectives contained DNA from Hardy and Jones, and Jones' DNA was found on a pair of Vann's shoes. Prosecutors contend Vann used the cord to kill both women. A judge last year granted the state's request to prevent the coroner's office from releasing the autopsy reports on Hardy and Jones.

It was not immediately clear whether the new charges would affect Vann's trial date of July 25.

Vann was convicted in 2009 of sexual assaulting a 25-year-old female in Texas and was sentenced to five years in prison. The state's sex offender registry listed Vann as being a "low" risk.

The victim in the 2009 case told police she went to Vann's apartment, where he asked if she was a police officer. After she told him no, he knocked her down and began to strangle and beat her, hitting her several times in the face and telling the woman he could kill her. He then raped her.

Vann allowed the woman to leave and she called police the next day.