Darren Vann
Gary, Ind., Police Department

The identities of seven homicide victims linked to a suspected Indiana serial killer have been confirmed following the fall arrest and alleged confession of a 43-year-old man, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Darren Vann was arrested Oct. 18 after police in Hammond, Ind., discovered the body of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy in a hotel room, the report says. Shortly thereafter, he was charged in the death of Anith Jones, 35, of Merriville, Ind., the report says. He then allegedly led investigators to the remains of Kristine Williams, 36; Teaira Batey, 28; and Tracy Lynn Martin, 41, the report says.

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Now he has been charged with the deaths of Sonya Billingsley, 53, of Gary, Ind., who had been reported missing nearly a year ago, and Tanya Gatlin, 27, a Highland, Ind., mother of two who was never reported missing, the Tribune reports.

“She was a beautiful person,” Sonya Billingsley’s 83-year-old mother, Helen Billingsley, told the Tribune in an interview from her home Friday. “She took care of her mama. I knew it was foul play the second day.”

Helen Billingsley told the Tribune that her daughter would sometimes leave home for a couple of days but always returned.  

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The case raised eyebrows because Vann is black and his alleged confession last fall to the series of murders challenged the popular belief that serial killers are mostly white men between the ages of 20 and 40. The percentage of serial killers who are black has almost doubled since the 1980s, with a significant increase over the last 20 years, according to research by retired New York City Police Department Lt. Vernon J. Geberth published at Practical Homicide.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.