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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.

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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.

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

Paula Palo Sighted in Gary 12/28, Please Keep an Eye Out

28 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Paula Palo was sighted today in Gary near 5th and Broadway. At approximately 3:00 pm a caller reported seeing Paula to the Gary Police Department. Officers checked the area but did not find her. The family wishes to thank those who have kept a lookout and remains hopeful that Paula can be found safely and get her medication.  Paula is 59 years old and was last seen wearing the black coat pictured below.  She was wearing blue jeans and a cross necklace.

If you see Paula or have any information, please call the Gary Police Department at 219.881.1260

Paula Palo Missing from Gary, IN

Paula Palo Missing from Gary, IN

Coroner Identifies 24 Y.O. Trammel Harper, Gary Homicide Victim

28 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

The office of Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey has confirmed that the victim in a December 27 homicide as 24 year old Trammel Harper of Gary.  The report states that coroner investigators were called to the 2200 block of Georgia Street at 9:40 pm.  The cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

At approximately 9:00 p.m. the Gazette began receiving reports of a homicide in the 2100 block of Georgia Street in Gary. Gary police were reportedly searching for a suspect in a late model grand prix.  King Carter was the first to report this incident. Others have subsequently verified it, including family members of the victim.

King Carter has since reported that the driver of the Grand Prix was apprehended.  We have not received confirmation of that from the Gary Police Department at this time.

 

Faulty Equipment Hampers Fire Department in Gary

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

The Gazette has received several reports of the Gary Fire Department and faulty equipment. Just a few days ago, there was a report of a fire truck breaking down on the way to a fire. Now we have obtained a video taken in September 2013, which purports to show the problems with equipment that Gary firefighters face on a daily basis.

We would love to hear your comments:

Breaking 26 Y.O. Gary Man Dies After Being Shot

27 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

Gary, Indiana saw another homicide tonight. At approximately 9:00 p.m. the Gazette began receiving reports of a homicide in the 2100 block of Georgia Street in Gary. Gary police were reportedly searching for a suspect in a late model grand prix. The Gazette is awaiting official confirmation from the office of the lake county coroner but feel confident enough to report this homicide at this time. King Carter was the first to report this incident. Others have subsequently verified it, including family members of the victim.