CROWN POINT | Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Wednesday he hasn't been told that he violated a gag order in the state's case against a suspected serial killer.
Darren Vann's defense attorneys, Matthew Fech and Teresa Hollandsworth, filed a petition Tuesday for a contempt of court order against Buncich. The online court docket entry states the clerk's office was supposed to notify the sheriff about the court hearing.
The motion has been scheduled for a hearing Feb. 13. Buncich said Wednesday he hadn't heard anything about the court hearing.
"I haven't received any notification," he said.
Vann, 43, of Gary, is facing murder charges in the strangling deaths of Afrika Hardy, 19, and Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville. Officials previously said Vann led officers to the bodies of six women, including Jones, who were left dead in abandoned homes throughout Gary.
A day after Vann was charged, a protective order, commonly known as a gag order, was filed in the case, which prohibits officials involved in the case from discussing details with the public.
The Times could not access the motion or the public court files of Vann's case on Tuesday or Wednesday, because the files were being held in Lake County Criminal Judge Diane Boswell's chambers.
When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, a woman in the judge's chambers said the files would be returned to the Lake County clerk's office Thursday. An explanation was not given for why the files could not be returned to the clerk's office sooner, which is located in the same building as the judge's office.
Copies of motions and orders filed in state criminal cases in Lake County are not accessible online.
On Wednesday, an order was granted ordering Buncich to "return property and privileges" to Vann, according to an online court entry.
Fech and Hollandsworth wrote a letter Jan. 15 to a Lake County Jail warden asking him to give Vann a book about the White Sox and the team's former owner. The letter also asks the jail to give or return to Vann his court documents, his mail, reading materials and writing materials.
In response to the letter, Buncich said last week his jail would house Vann but wouldn't entertain him without a court order.
"Does he think I run a newsstand? Does he want a romance novel?" Buncich told The Times.
In December, Hollandsworth asked Boswell during a court hearing to allow Vann to have rights to paper in the jail. Hollandsworth said her client wasn't allowed to keep court documents and he wasn't allowed to write to his defense attorneys.
Boswell did not grant the order then, because she said she needed more information about why Vann was being denied paper.
Buncich said last week Vann has access to the jail's commissary, writing materials and the law library.
Patti Van Til, the sheriff's spokeswoman, said Wednesday she couldn't comment on the court's order regarding Vann's property and privileges in jail because of the gag order.