Free libraries in Irvington honor victims of serial killer in Gary

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Free public libraries are popping up in the Irvington area in honor of seven women murdered by a serial killer in Gary, Indiana. It was set up by a woman in Indianapolis whose daughter was also found dead in Gary around the same time.

Sandy Segneri’s daughter, Samantha Rainey, was killed at the age of 24. Rainey leaves behind three children, including her 7-year-old daughter Julianna. Segneri said when a Boy Scout needed an Eagle Scout project, they thought a free library would be a great way to give back to the community. Then Segneri wanted to add a plaque on each library with the name of a serial killer victim.

“We became a tight knit community to support each other through the trial and tribulations that happened,” Segneri said.

The killer, Darren Vann, was sentenced in May 2018. Authorities say the 47-year-old man preyed on women in an area of Gary known as a hangout for prostitutes and drug users.

Segneri wanted these women to be remembered in a positive way. She felt this gesture was also a way to start a new chapter for her family.

“Bringing that love back into what was such a sad time for the last three years,” she said.

Julianna was only in preschool when her mom died, so now that she understands it more, this allows her to focus on something positive.

“Just showed her there are good people in the world, they are not all bad,” said Segneri.

The public libraries are in front of homes and schools. There is on at Irvington Community Middle School. Segneri said the families in Gary found out about the project this afternoon and told her they are grateful their stories are staying alive even 150 miles away.

More people found out about their project and donated boxes for additional books and non-perishable foods. Andrea Light and the Eastside Art Collective donated materials and painted several portable libraries and food pantries.

“The rainbow box is what we call it and is the box I collaborated with Julianna on as well as two other artists,” said Light. “She painted the rainbow on top and the flower on the back is in remembrance of her mother because that was one of her favorite flowers.”

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