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CROWN POINT | Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said he will feed, clothe and shelter a suspected serial killer, but refuses to entertain him without a court order.

"Does he think I run a newsstand? Does he want a romance novel?" Buncich wondered aloud Friday.

He was referring to Darren D. Vann, 43, who is pleading not guilty to charges he strangled Afrikka Hardy, 19, and Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville in separate homicides last fall.

Police said Vann has confessed to killing five other women whose bodies were found in abandoned Gary properties. The prosecutor's office has indicated it may file death penalty charges against Vann.

Buncich said lawyers for Vann this week requested the warden immediately return or provide Vann with a book he received earlier about the Chicago White Sox and its previous owner, Bill Veeck.

The letter, signed by defense attorneys Matthew Fech and Teresa Hollandsworth, states Vann should receive normal privileges given other inmates, but at minimum they request Vann receive, "Paper and writing utensils ... The ability to obtain other reading materials ... The ability to obtain any and all mail from the family, legal or otherwise," a place to put copies of court papers and "Any items he purchases from commissary."

The jail's commissary sells snacks and convenience items to jail inmates.

Buncich said although Vann is confined away from the jail's general population in a unit for defendant's facing high profile crimes, Vann has access to the commissary, paper and writing utensils as well as the jail's law library.

Fech and Public Defender David Schneider, whose office oversees Vann's defense team, declined comment, citing a gag order.

Vann's behavior has been erratic at times since his arrest.

A Lake Superior Court magistrate had to abort Vann's initial court hearing Oct. 22 when he refused to answer questions. Authorities couldn't bring Vann into court for a pre-trial hearing Dec. 5 because he wasn't "appropriately dressed and not competent to participate in ... proceedings," according to a court document.

Buncich said Friday he will provide Vann with anything the court orders, but until then, if Vann has become bored he can read the one book provided to all inmates, the Bible.

"He can start with Genesis," Buncich said.

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Lake County Reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.