GARY, Ind. — Friday evening, a 19-year-old woman named Afrikka Hardy arrived as scheduled at a Motel 6 near here. She was there to meet a 43-year-old man who had arranged the encounter through Backpage.com, a classified site routinely used to advertise prostitutes.
But later that evening, when another woman who had helped set up the meeting texted Hardy, the responses from her cellphone seemed suspicious. The woman and a male friend rushed to the motel around 9:30 p.m. There, they found Hardy alone in the motel room. She had been strangled.
The police say that she died at the hands of Darren Vann, a convicted sex offender who had been living in Gary recently, and that Hardy was not his only victim.