Officials said that the abandoned homes of the women, where a former Marine strangled and hid the bodies, will be replaced and demolished, with memorials for the victims.
Deon Darren Vann, a 47-year-old serving life in prison, stashed the bodies of six women in abandoned homes around Gary, Indiana, after strangling seven women to death in 2013 and 2014.
Officials stated that one residence has already been destroyed and four additional homes will be demolished.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said razing the homes should provide ‘solace’ for the families of Vann’s victims, the Northwest Indiana Times reported.
She stated that the city will collaborate with the families of the victims to establish commemorative gardens on the premises.
Freeman-Wilson stated, “We know that we cannot bring back the loved ones they have lost, but we hope that the city can provide a sense of comfort to these families. We are aware that we should not forget or ignore their suffering.”
Officials affirm that Vann focused on females in an area of Gary acknowledged as a meeting place for individuals engaged in sex work and those affected by substance misuse.
The demolitions will also tackle decay, Freeman-Wilson mentioned.
Freeman-Wilson expressed, “This emphasized it, and you consistently discuss the peril that arises from deserted structures. However, undoubtedly, this was a global instance that brought a heightened consciousness to the matter, (the Vann case).”
According to Cedric Kuykendall, the city’s demolition coordinator, Gary Sanitary District and Stormwater Management will supply the required $47,600 to demolish the houses.
He mentioned that the remaining four properties are in the process of being developed, and a specific date for the commencement of work has not been determined yet. It should be noted that one of the homes has already been demolished.
27 Tanya Gatlin and 53 Sonya Billingsley; 36 Kristine Williams; 41 Tracy Martin; 35 Anith Jones; 19 Afrikka Hardy; 28 Teaira Batey pleaded guilty to the killing and was arrested in 2014, along with 47 Vann.
Vann is presently incarcerated for life with no chance of release after accepting a plea deal that saved him from receiving the death penalty.
In 1993, Vann was given an ‘other than honorable’ military discharge and relocated to Gary following his release from a Texas prison in July 2013, where he had been incarcerated for a sexual assault offense related to a sex worker.
In October 2014, Vann was arrested as police in Hammond investigated the murder of Hardy. Inside a motel room in Hammond, the lifeless body of Hardy was discovered.
According to the police affidavit, the women referred to Gary Vann as the person who would lead them to the other victims and the “mistakes.” Police arrested him in Hammond when he told them that he had killed six women in Gary the previous year.
During the next several days, authorities were led to the remains of six other women in hidden, abandoned buildings in Gary, Indiana.