Sheraton Rubble May Contain Bodies from Abandoned House Strangler

21 Oct

According to sources close to the investigation, Abandoned House Strangler Darren Vann has made some fantastic accusations. Among them, that there are bodies which were in the Sheraton Hotel before demolition began. When asked if the claim was credible, the source replied “everything he has told us so far is true . . . .but” indicating that this claim may be too outrageous to believe, yet too credible to summarily dismiss. The Sheraton Hotel, next to City Hall, has been vacant for nearly 20 years. It was billed as a surefire means of revitalizing downtown Gary by then Mayor Richard Hatcher in 1968 and reopened briefly in 1985. Demolition work began on the structure in July of this year.

It is clear that Vann has a sick vendetta against the City of Gary. Among other revelations, Vann detailed a plan to blow up the Gary Police Station. The source had no details as to whether there was any evidence that he took any steps toward completion of that plan. It is possible that he is saying there are bodies in the Sheraton rubble as one last chance to attack the City of Gary. Work continued on the Sheraton Hotel today.

Please Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more breaking news in the Abandoned House Killer Case as well as more breaking news.

43 Yr. Old Registered Sex Offender Charged in Afrika Hardy Murder

21 Oct

The Abandoned House Strangler has been identified by Hammond police as 43 year old Darren Vann of Gary. Vann is a registered sex offender who is current on his registration according to records maintained by Lake County Sheriff John Buncich. Vann was arrested on Saturday in connection with the murder of 19 year old Afrika Hardy. Charges were filed this afternoon for the Murder of 19 year old Afrika Hardy from Aurora, Illinois.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed in the case, Vann arranged a meeting with Hardy utilizing the site backpage.com. Hardy did not make the arranged meeting on Thursday night. On Friday at 5:30 pm Vann, who went by the screen name “Big Boy Appetite” on backpage.com, showed up at Motel 6 unannounced. After the “normal time” for such a meeting passed, Shameeka Cunningham and Eduardo Ayon, who helped to arrange meetings for Hardy, became concerned about Hardy’s welfare. The pair travelled to Motel 6 and found Afrika Hardy’s lifeless body in the bathtub.

Shameeka Cunningham dialed 9-1-1 and summoned police and ambulance personnel to the scene according to the affidavit. Upon arrival police found that “the beds were moved away from the headboards to suggest that there was possibly a struggle there.” A condom wrapper, a light colored shirt button and a fingernail were also found according to the report. Afrika Hardy had red marks on her neck, suggesting that “she had been strangled with something thin.” The coroner was called and the cause of death was determined to be strangulation. The manner of death was determined to be homicide.

During the interviews with Cunningham and Ayon, police were able to obtain information regarding a cell phone that had been utilized by “Big Boy Appetite” to arrange the meeting. Police supboenaed cellular phone records for the telephone and were led to a location in the 600 block of W. 49th Avenue in Gary according to the affidavit. Police then obtained a search warrant for that residence on October 18 and arrested Darren Deon Vann. A blue Jeep was towed and a search warrant was obtained for that vehicle. During the search, police discovered a shirt which was missing a button, an HTC cellular telephone in a pink case which matched the description of that owned by Afrika Hardy, and condoms of the same brand and type as the wrapper found in the motel room.

The affidavit states that Darren Deon Vann confessed to strangling Afrika Hardy with a cord when confronted with the evidence.

SERIAL KILLER: 19 year Old Victim Identified

20 Oct

October 18, 2014-The office of Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey has released a report regarding Hammond’s homicide which is believed to be linked to the four bodies found overnight in Gary. Hammond Police were called called to the Motel 6, 3840 179th Street, at approximately 9:00 pm.

According to the report from the Coroner, investigators were called to the scene at 9:55 p.m. Upon arrival, investigators pronounced 19 year old Afrika Hardy dead at the scene. The time of death was 11:00 p.m. according to the report. The cause of death was strangulation. The case is being investigated as a homicide.

This is the latest in our continuing coverage of the Gary Serial Killer. Please Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for all the latest news.

2014 Garden Calendar for Northwest Indiana

16 Apr

PanoramaNOW Entertainment News

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If you would like us to send you the 2014 PanoramaNOW’s Annual Garden Calendar, Please let us know at panoramanow@comcast.net
Like Us On facebook: http://www.facebook.com/panoramanow
APRIL 14th, Plant Swap- 10am, Deep River County Park Parking lot behind Visitor Center, 9410 Old Lincoln Hwy, Hobart, 769-PARK, http://www.lakecountyparks.com.
APRIL 15th, Talk- Garden tips, 7pm, regx336 Merrillville Library, 769-3541, http://www.lcplin.org.
APRIL 16th, Talk- Parisian Gardens, 7pm 1001 W Lincolnway, Schererville Library, 322-4731, http://www.lcplin.org.
APRIL 16th, Talk- Weed Wisdom-Methods of Organic Weed Control, noon, $5 Purdue Extension-La Porte County office, 2857 W State Rd 2, LaPorte, 324-9407.
APRIL 17th, Talk- ‘Landscaping with Native Plants for Four Seasons of Color’ 6:30pm, 2841 Jewett St, Highland Library, 838-2394, http://www.lcplin.org.
APRIL 19 th, Earth Day, 9-4pm, exhibitors, children’s activities, live stage shows, free bags, bingo, vendors, demonstrations, Porter County Expo Center, 215 E Division Rd, Valparaiso, South of Hwy 30 on Rt 49, 464-0133.
APRIL 26th, Birding…

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Governor Pence Authorizes Bonuses of up to $1,000 to State Employees

29 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Governor Pence has authorized one time, end of year bonuses to be paid to State employees. The bonuses of up to $1,000 will be based on performance reviews to be completed in January. The Governor states that the bonuses are in lieu of pay raises and will not affect the budget. We would love to hear your opinions, is this sound fiscal policy? Sound off in the comments section.  

Here is the Governor’s letter to State of Indiana employees:

Fellow State Employees,
As 2013 draws to a close, I am writing to express my sincere appreciation for your service to the people of Indiana over the past year.
Through the efforts of dedicated State Employees like you, Hoosiers continue to receive quality service and support when interacting with our state government. Indiana is strong and growing stronger due, in part, to the commitment you exhibit every day in service to the public.
Because of your efficiency and commitment to fiscal discipline, Indiana leads the way with a balanced budget, AAA credit rating and a reputation for sound fiscal management.
While our present circumstances do not permit us to increase base pay, because your service to Indiana has been exemplary, I have authorized a bonus that you will receive once performance evaluations are completed in January.
Employees who meet expectations will receive a $500 bonus, those who exceed expectations will receive $750, and those rated outstanding will receive $1,000.
I hope this news will be an encouragement to you for a job well done in 2013.
Thank you for your service to the good people of Indiana. It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve alongside men and women like you.
God bless you and your family with a memorable holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Sincerely,
Governor Mike Pence

Indianapolis Experiences 142nd Homicide of the Year, Closes in on Chicago's Killing Rate

29 Dec

From Our Friend Paul Ogden in Indianapolis:

Indianapolis Experiences 142nd Homicide of the Year, Closes in on Chicago’s Killing Rate

With two more killings last night, Indianapolis now has 142 homicides for 2013 according to the Bart Lies! website which tracks Indy killings.  This is compared to 115 in 2012, 110 in 2011, and 119 in 2010.

A few years ago, City leaders conveniently redefined homicide to mean “murder” in order to get the count below 100.  Of course, “murder” is a legal term and something can’t technically be classified as “murder” until often a lengthy court process has taken place.  A person may have acted in self-defense and be acquitted of a murder charge, for example.  It still would be a homicide though.  Whether it is a homicide is determined at or near the time of the killing which makes it the figure used in crime reports, unless it is Indianapolis which tries to fudge the number, chiefly to fool media types who simply assume “homicide” and “murder” mean the same thing.

By contrast, Chicago, which has seen a substantial decline in killings, is closing out the year with about 458 homicides. If my math is correct, Indianapolis has one homicide for every 5,945 residents while Chicago has a homicide for every 5,928 residents.  So Indy’s homicide rate is still lower than Chicago…barely.

You can comment here or, leave a comment for Paul on his website http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/  This article is reprinted with permission.  All opinions expressed herein are those of the author.

 

Columbia Avenue Closed for Over an Hour Due To Hit and Run

29 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

The 7000 block of Columbia Avenue was closed at approximately 7:30 pm tonight due to a hit and run accident.  A red mini-van reportedly struck a passenger car and left the scene.  Officers looked for the van for approximately 30 minutes before locating it at 176th Street and Howard Avenue.  The driver of the van had fled the vehicle.  A citizen reported seeing a white male fleeing on 176th place and officers then began the search for that individual.    A suspect was ultimately located and arrested.  The driver of the vehicle that was hit was injured but refused medical treatment.  The scene was ultimately cleared at approximately 8:30 p.m.

 

 

‘Cop Killer’ Manhunt Goes Nationwide

29 Dec

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The manhunt for a “cop killer” was expanded today to a nationwide dragnet to find the suspected bank robber who fatally shot a Mississippi police officer two days before Christmas, according to the FBI. Tupelo Police Department officer Gale Stauffer and another officer were hit by gunfire Monday when they confronted suspected bank robbers during their getaway in the city. As the officers approached suspects in a vehicle, which was stuck in traffic at a railroad crossing, at least one of the suspects opened fire at close range, according to an account posted online at the Officer Down Memorial Page. The suspects fled, leaving Stauffer fatally shot and another officer critically wounded Stauffer “has made the ultimate sacrifice for his community,” Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said, urging the public to help “so that the criminal or criminals responsible for this horrendous act can be brought to justice.” After reviewing bank surveillance video from the robbery of a BancorpSouth bank in Tupelo, authorities are looking for a thin, possibly African-American man with light complexion, standing between 5-feet-9 and 6-feet tall, according to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. The suspect seen in the surveillance video was wearing khaki or cargo-style pants, white Converse tennis shoes, a long-sleeved jacket and a blue ski mask, the state public safety department said. A charcoal-colored, medium-sized sedan might have been used as a getaway car. As part of the investigation, authorities also released a photo (shown below) of a “person of interest” standing in what appears to be a convenience store minutes before the robbery at the bank. Police did not discuss any possible connection to the bank shooting.More than 100 agents, officers, deputies and marshals worked through Christmas to track down the suspects, an FBI official said. The FBI, BancorpSouth and others are offering more than $152,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI’s tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
Stauffer was a combat veteran of the Louisiana Army National Guard, and he had served with the Tupelo Police Department for eight years, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
He was married with two young children.

Carrie Hightman Tied to Bobby Rush Scandal

29 Dec

by Ken Davidson

A new investigation by the Illinois Better Government Association, while not specifically mentioning Hightman, calls the relationship between SBC Illinois and the Office of Congressman Bobby Rush into question. Andy Shaw, President and CEO of the Better Government Association is quick to point out “We’re not suggesting that Rush broke the law, but we are saying the fog needs to be cleared and real answers provided.” SBC Illinois was the donor of the $1M grant to Rush’s non-profit organization. The grant was supposed to build a technology center in Chicago’s troubled Englewood neighborhood. According to reports from the BGA, the center was never built and the money was never accounted for. Shaw calls for an investigation into:

[Rush] maintains the money wasn’t stolen or squandered, but that claim, without verification, doesn’t suffice, so we’re suggesting some options for shining more light on the situation:

The House Ethics Committee can see if Rush crossed any legal or ethical lines in regards to the million-dollar grant, his charity accepting tons of money from regulated companies seeking his legislative help, and his campaign office apparently not paying rent.
The Federal Election Commission can look at whether Rush or his campaign operation violated federal law by apparently accepting free rent, not reporting it as an in-kind donation and possibly exceeding donation limits.
The Internal Revenue Service can investigate the tax implications of all this, including whether Rush’s nonprofit violated the law by wrongly claiming on one disclosure form the tech center had been built, which wasn’t true.
The IRS can also find out if Rush used campaign cash to enhance his personal lifestyle, which is what got former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in trouble.
http://www.bettergov.org/the_million-dollar_question/?CategoryId=1

Any such investigation would obviously focus on whether or not the grantor received anything of value in return for the no strings grant. Regardless of whether there was any impropriety in the transaction, the situation calls into question the professional judgment of Hightman.

Carrie Hightman, the Chair of the Gary P3 Committee, became Chief Legal Office for NiSource in 2007 after serving as CEO of AT&T Illinois, which was formerly SBC Illinois. In a statement released when Hightman joined NiSource, her experience in ” regulatory, legislative, governmental and external affairs activities, as well as community and industry relations, throughout Illinois” were cited. The statement went on to explain:

During her tenure at AT&T, Hightman led the company through a series of important public policy initiatives as AT&T evolved from a traditional telephone company into a provider of diversified communications and entertainment services, including wireline, wireless, data and video services. Under her leadership, AT&T secured unanimous regulatory approval of a landmark agreement to deregulate local telephone service and offer competitive pricing in the metropolitan Chicago market, as well as helped the company return to the long distance telephone market after a twenty-year absence.

The SBC Foundation states that they provide grants of $25,000 to $50,000. The Gazette could find no evidence of any other single grant in any amount near $1M. Additionally, the 990 tax forms submitted by the Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corporation listed no such contribution, despite a specific question asking about “Unusual Grants.”

28 Unusual Grants: For an organization described in line 10, 11, or 12 that received any unusual grants during 20001hrough 2003, prepare a list for your records
to show, for each year, the name of the contributor, the date and amount of the grant, and a brief description of the nature of the grant. Do not file this list with
your return. Do not include these grants in line 15.
423121 12-03-04 NONE Schedule A (Form BBO or 990-EZ) 2004

Source: http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/364/364078159/364078159_200503_990.pdf
Hightman was instrumental in selecting the contractor that was recently approved by the airport board to run the airport for up to 40 years.  While this information was not disclosed to the airport board, the Gazette has previously reported on the connection between Hightman and one of the companies involved in the partnership that was ultimately selected.

The Better Government Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is not affiliated with the Northwest Indiana Gazette.  You can read the entire BGA article at their website  The Million Dollar Question

Gazette Receives Permission To Use Fedex Crash Pictures

29 Dec Joe Wzolek receives Highlands Award

by Ken Davidson

After what turned out to be an embarrassing error in judgment, the Gazette has received permission to publish photos of the truck that crashed into a Hessville home on December 13. The homeowners report that the crash occurred after a delivery was made at a school across the street. The driver stated that the gas pedal stuck and he lost control of the vehicle. A 12 year old resident of the home was on the couch in the living room of the home which was struck by the truck. She was injured and received treatment for a concussion. The driver of the truck had to be cut from the vehicle.

There is a soccer field at the school and the family questions why the driver could not veer in that direction, avoiding risk. The home is a total loss.

federal express truck crashes into house in hammond, indiana