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Over a din of smart-ass comments and after-work banter, Peg at Bugsy’s Tavern asks the obvious question: “You guys wanna watch the news?” The answer is yes, of course, and the crowd at the tiny bar off the main drag in this busted town of 80,000 settles in to hear the score of their newly famous resident.

There’s a Jane Doe or two among the seven women allegedly killed by Darren Deon Vann who need to be identified; more charges are forthcoming for Vann, who is already pinned for the murder of Afrika Hardy, strangled and left in the bathtub of a Motel 6. Six bodies have been discovered thanks to his confession.

“Supposedly there’s 14,” a concrete worker named Josh said Monday night.

“There’s gotta be more,” a beer-sipper agrees.

What there isn’t, the patrons at Bugsy’s are told as they gaze into TV screens glowing in the approaching dusk, is a motive. The whole episode is shocking, confusing, newsy and depressing—a black eye for a town already sporting a fat lip and a broken nose.

There are 10,000 abandoned houses in Gary, the mayor said earlier in the day as details emerged about the crime that brought police to Vann’s doorstep. The homes sit in various stages of decay—some are torched to the point that blackened studs are the only thing left of a family’s long-gone home. Others are fixer-uppers, if you happen to be a construction expert and financial idiot. But most of the abandoned houses, with sagging roofs and drafty walls, are just there.

“It makes me uncomfortable,” a woman says, standing in front of 413 E. 43rd Ave., where the body of Anith Jones was found. “My kids walk by here every day.”

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