Vann was born on March 21, 1971 in Indiana. He was married for 16 years to a woman who was about 30 years older than him. He was reportedly arrested in Gary, Indiana for threatening the life of his girlfriend. He was charged with a class D felony and spent 90 days in jail. Vann was previously convicted on September 28, 2009 in Travis County, Texas, of a sexual assault committed in Austin in 2007 and sentenced to five years in a state penitentiary, being released on July 5, 2013. His wife, Maria Vann, filed for a divorce in August 2009 and their marriage was dissolved in April 2010. He also received an "other than honorable" discharge from the United States Marine Corps in 1993 after joining in 1991.
When 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy was found strangled in a Motel 6, authorities used Hardy’s phone records and located Vann. Upon apprehension, Vann was found to have possession of several key pieces of potential evidence which included Hardy’s phone. During police interrogation he allegedly confessed to his involvement in Hardy’s killing and told police he was involved in other killings. His first court hearing was scheduled October 22, however he was held in contempt of court. His next hearing was held on October 28 at Lake County Jail in Crown Point where he pleaded not guilty to two charges of murder filed against him in the deaths of Afrikka Hardy and Anith Jones as well as robbery.
His trial was originally supposed to begin on June 22, 2015, but this trial date was canceled on April 17, 2015 when the request for a death sentence was filed. The trial date of June 22, 2015 was subsequently restored. Vann's attorneys requested that the trial be delayed, and the trial was again delayed to January 25, 2016. In December 2015, Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell recused herself from hearing the case. Judge Samuel Cappas subsequently said he would take the case. In December 2015, Vann's trial was delayed to July 25, 2016.
On March 7, 2016, Vann was charged with murder in the deaths of five additional victims. The death penalty is being sought for each. The following day, Vann was charged with rape and attempted murder for an alleged February 2014 attack. Vann was also charged with battery by bodily waste for allegedly throwing a carton of urine and feces at a Lake County correctional officer at the jail on February 24, 2016. In April 2016, Judge Samuel Cappas denied a motion by Vann's attorneys to sever the murder cases of Anith Jones and Afrikka Hardy, and, as a result, the capital murder trial in said cases will continue as one. In a motion filed August 5, 2016, Vann's attorneys argued that Indiana's death penalty law is unconstitutional. In November 2016, Judge Samuel Cappas denied Vann's motion to declare the state's death penalty statute unconstitutional. In January 2017, a Lake County judge decided that Vann could make an appeal with his claims that Indiana's death penalty statute is unconstitutional. In April 2017, the Indiana Supreme Court turned down Vann's request to look at the constitutionality of the state's death penalty statute before he goes to trial. At a status hearing in April 2017, Judge Samuel Cappas set jury selection to begin the week of February 12, 2018, with the actual jury trial beginning around March 12, 2018.
Vann is suspected of murdering at least these seven women:
Afrikka Hardy, 19, had recently moved to Chicago after graduating from high school. She met Vann at a Motel 6 at 3840 179th Street in Hammond, Indiana after he hired her through an escort agency. She was found dead in a bathtub in one of its rooms on October 17, 2014.
Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, Indiana, was last seen alive on October 8, 2014 and reported missing two days later. After Vann was arrested, he led police to an abandoned house at 415 East 43rd Avenue in Gary on October 18 where her body was found.
Teira Batey, 28, of Gary, Indiana, left to meet a friend on January 13, 2014 but she never returned. Her family waited to hear from her for a few days but reported her missing later that month. Her body was found in an abandoned house at 1800 East 19th Avenue in Gary on October 19.
Kristine Williams, 36, of Gary, Indiana, was a mother of four and employed at the time of her death. Her mother-in-law stated that she had not heard from Williams since February 2014. Her body was found in an abandoned house at 4330 Massachusetts Street in Gary on October 19.
Tracy Martin, 41, of Gary, Indiana, was reported missing on June 26, 2014. Her body was found in an abandoned house at 2200 Massachusetts Street in Gary on October 19.
Sonya Billingsley, 53, of Gary, Indiana, was reported missing on February 7, 2014. Her body was found in an abandoned house with the body of Tanya Gatlin at 413 East 43rd Avenue in Gary on October 19.
Tanya Gatlin, 27, of Gary, Indiana, had been missing since January 2014. Her body was found in an abandoned house with the body of Sonya Billingsley at 413 East 43rd Avenue in Gary on October 19.