The data analyst, a newspaper hack who largely pursued
his own interests
As the ship of media sank,
Emailed a Gary Police Department detective
With a startling missive:
"Could there be a serial killer active in the Gary area?"
There could be.
In fact there was.
The serial killer filled a dozen vacant homes with garroted corpses,
Blank-eyed and bloated.
There were 6,000 abandoned homes in the woebegone city
Besieged with breakneck white flight and rapid deindustrialization.
A neighboring police force eventually cracked the case
After finding a dead prostitute in a bathtub of a room
A national motel chain still rented out years later.
The serial killer was cuffed,
Locked up, put on trial.
But the data guy still never heard back from the Gary detective.
He never heard from the chief of detectives,
The police chief, the mayor’s office, anybody at all.
The frustrated statistician calculated
That six more bodies had since been stowed in vacants
After he tried to warn them,
After he never heard back,
After he never heard anything at all.
Joseph reads "Vacants":
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Joseph confesses: "This poem was inspired by an actual Gary serial killer, Darren Vann, who had been stashing bodies in vacants like that storyline in The Wire. A data analyst had figured out there was a serial killer years earlier, but no one from the police department ever heeded his words. That always bothered me."