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Suspected Ind. serial killer refuses to speak in court

CROWN POINT, Ind. - A man who allegedly confessed to killing seven women in Indiana refused to respond to the judge during his initial court appearance Wednesday, prompting her to postpone it and to warn him he'd spend "the rest of his life in jail" unless he cooperates.

When the judge asked Darren Vann if he swore to tell the truth at his initial court appearance in the strangulation death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy, he didn't respond or flinch.

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Lake Superior Court judge Kathleen Sullivan warned Vann, who stood with his wrists and legs shackled and flanked by two jail guards, he could be held in contempt and he still declined to speak.

"Mr. Vann, are you choosing not to take part in this hearing?" Sullivan asked Vann during the hearing in a courtoom at the Lake County Jail in Crown Point.

Sullivan then addressed Vann's public defender, urging him to make his client speak.

"Tell your client that he stays in jail the rest of his life until this hearing takes place," she said.

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Vann's public defender walked up to him and put his hand on Vann's shoulder encouraging him to speak, but he refused.

Sullivan said she would schedule another initial hearing for next week.

Vann, 43, is charged with the strangulation death of Hardy, whose body was found Friday in a bathtub at a motel, 20 miles southeast of Chicago.

Police say Vann also directed them to the bodies of six other women in nearby Gary, and that more charges are likely.

Investigators in Indiana and Texas, where he has also lived and served time in prison, have been poring over cold case files and missing person reports to determine if there are more victims.

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