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Police Using Suspected Serial Killer's Cell Phone Records To Track Movements

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Investigators in northwest Indiana have begun using suspected serial killer Darren Vann's cell phone records, in an effort to track his movements before his arrest.

Vann, 43, has been charged with strangling two women in Gary and Hammond, and allegedly has told detectives he killed at least five other women.

Police said Vann claimed he wanted to check on the bodies of his victims after he killed them. Investigators plan to check his cell phone records to find other locations where more possible victims might have been dumped.

Also Thursday, the Lake County Coroner's office planned to visit some of the abandoned homes where the victims were found, to make sure additional evidence has not been overlooked.

Officers from the Cook County Sheriff's office used hammers and crowbars Wednesday afternoon to enter several vacant buildings in Harvey, using cadaver dogs to check for possible victims. The sheriff's office also urged police departments in the south suburbs to check abandoned homes for bodies.

So far, no more victims have been found beyond the seven discovered in Gary and Hammond last weekend.

Vann has been charged with murder in the deaths of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy and 35-year-old Anith Jones.

At Vann's first court appearance on Wednesday, he refused to answer questions from the judge, who warned him he would stay in jail "for the rest of his life" until he cooperates in court. Another hearing has been scheduled for next Wednesday.

Vann, a convicted sex offender in Texas, is accused of strangling Hardy on Friday, after making arrangements online to meet her for sex in Hammond. Hardy's naked body was found Friday night in a room at the Motel 6 in Hammond.

Afrikka Hardy
Afrikka Hardy (Credit: Facebook)

Police have said Hardy was a prostitute who arranged to meet Vann through the website When her facilitator received suspicious text messages from Hardy's phone after Hardy met Vann at the motel, the facilitator went to the motel room and found her body.

The facilitator called police and gave investigators Vann's phone number, and they tracked him to Gary.

Vann was arrested the next day, and allegedly confessed to killing at least six other women. He's also indicated there might be more victims, including some he might have killed outside Indiana, but so far only seven victims have been found.

He allegedly admitted killing Jones after a friend of his contacted Vann, telling him he wanted Jones to disappear "because of an upcoming legal matter." Vann claimed the friend offered to pay him $300 in cash and $200 worth of drugs.

Anith Jones
Anith Jones, one of at least seven women whose bodies were found in northwest Indiana over the weekend. (Credit: Gary Police)

Vann claimed his friend told him Jones was an escort. He allegedly called Jones a month to a month-and-a-half before she went missing, "and was building a rapport with her," according to the affidavit. He claimed he then met her at a house in Merrillville about a week to a week-and-a-half before his arrest on Saturday, and the two had consensual sex before he wrapped a cord around her neck and strangled her.

Vann allegedly claimed he used a metal trash can to move her body from the house in Merrillville to the a nearby wooded area, and left it there until later the same night, when he moved it to the vacant house in Gary where he dumped the body, and covered it with teddy bears and tires.

The affidavit revealed Hammond police seized a computer and a tool bag from Vann's home, and found a belt for a bathrobe in the bag. Two knots had been tied in the belt. Vann allegedly told police he had not used the belt to kill any of his victims, but planned to use it for his next victim.

Teaira Batey Serial Killer Victim
Teaira Batey (photo provided)

Police have identified two other victims: 36-year-old Kristine Williams and 28-year-old Teaira Batey.

Williams' father said he was told she had been dead between 10 and 12 months before her body was found.

Kristine Williams
Kristine Williams (Family Photo)

Three other unidentified victims were little more than skeletons when found, and Coroner Merrilee Frey said she will bring in a University of Indianapolis forensic anthropologist to try to help her establish identities, as well as how and when they died.

One of the women wore three pieces of jewelry that may aid in her identification. Frey said there was a silver band with scalloped edges, a silver ring with a heart on it and a silver bracelet bearing the words "Best Aunt;" she is said to be African-American and about 5-foot-3.

To date, Frey said, she has received calls from the families of 17 missing women inquiring to see if they could be among the victims. She said only one is a possibility, and that DNA samples are being taken from the victim and family members to determine if they match.

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