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What’s supposed to happen to vehicles from crime scenes? We ask an expert

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There are still plenty of questions we don't have the answers to when it comes a body that was recently found in a van at the Memphis Police impound lot.

Police say the body had been in the vehicle since it was involved in a shooting in Binghampton more than six weeks ago.

Like many crime scenes, there was a lot taking place at that one on Yale Avenue in December.

Multiple people were shot in a van with suspects on the loose, according to MPD. Police were supposed to be doing all they could to catch them.

“Obviously, any kind of evidence has to be properly collected and documented, photographs, sketches, notes — the whole bit," said C.T. Freeman, a criminal justice professor and forensic consultant.

Freeman is one of multiple former detectives we spoke with on Wednesday about what was supposed to happen with the victim’s van on scene.

We’re told there are two options.

First: an officer does an inventory of the vehicle on scene and records their search on what’s called a towing ticket. The officer hands the tow ticket to the tow truck driver, who then gives it to someone at the impound lot. Someone at the impound lot does another search of the vehicle to make sure the towing ticket is accurate and checks it in.

“That way, it protects the department if something is taken out of the vehicle or if someone says you know, 'I had $10,000 in there or whatever,' so that protects everyone from that," said Freeman.

The second option, used often in homicides or critical scenes, is the vehicle is brought to what’s called the “tunnel” at the impound lot.

The tunnel is a controlled environment in a warehouse where they process for fingerprints and do a thorough search. We’re told this is typically done by a detective and scene officer within 48 hours of the crime and then the vehicle’s moved to the impound lot.

“A lot of times we get kind of involved in this process and it becomes routine and honestly, most of the time that’s when mistakes are made when it becomes too routine.”

Sources tell us in this shooting case, three people reported inspecting the van and not seeing the dead person in the back.

However, the van owner himself was able to spot the body pretty quickly after coming to pick it up.

We’re working to get more answers.