For 16 years, Darren Vann was married to a woman 29 years his senior — a relationship that soured after he began going to nightclubs without her, his now ex-wife told the Chicago Sun-Times Monday.
But the woman, who didn’t want her name used, said Vann was never violent during a relationship that began in Indiana and migrated to Texas. The woman was stunned to learn Monday that her now ex-husband might be connected to a string of homicides.
“Oh my gosh, it would shock me,” said the woman, who said she was married to Vann from 1995 to 2011. “I can’t see him doing that.”
It remains unclear if any of the alleged homicides were committed during their marriage, though Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott had said on Sunday that some of the crimes could date back 20 years.
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The woman said she first met Vann in Hammond and then got married to him in Texas. At the time, Vann was enlisted with the U.S. Marines, she said, and had no criminal history that she knew about. The couple married in Austin, she said, and lived together there until 2000.
At some point in Texas, Vann was discharged from the Marines — honorably, the woman said. Vann held a number of jobs, including doing cleaning at a lab and working elsewhere as a security guard, she said.
“He always took care of me,” she said. “I never had any problems with him. He was never a violent person to me. He was sweet to me.”
Though they had no children together, the woman said Vann was “very protective” of the goddaughter who lived with the couple.
The woman said the relationship soured around 2000 because “we just weren’t compatible” and because Vann had started going to nightclubs with buddies, she said.
That same year, the woman moved back to Indiana. Vann followed his wife back to Indiana, she said. While there, Vann worked at a casino, doing housekeeping, she said.
Then in 2006, the woman moved back to Texas. Vann followed, she said.
“He said he wanted this marriage to work,” the woman recalled. “I said, ‘I want my freedom.’”
The woman said Monday that she hasn’t heard from Vann in at least six years.
Vann was released from a Texas prison in July last year, after serving a 5-year sentence for sexually assaulting an Austin woman at her home, according to Texas
Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark.