'Unacceptable': Body left in impounded car for 7 weeks

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A dead person remained undetected inside a police impound lot for seven weeks.

Memphis Police Department held a press conference Tuesday to discuss their investigation into how the body was not found sooner.

MPD Director Mike Rallings explained that robbers opened fire on two men as they sat inside their car at Yale Avenue on December 18, 2017.

The 55-year-old passenger said a group of men approached their vehicle, trying to rob them. When they refused to comply in the robbery, the robbers opened fire.

The 47-year-old driver was shot multiple times. The passenger was not injured.

Their vehicle was impounded as evidence in a crime.

Both victims said they were the only men inside the vehicle at the time of the crime.

However, when the men came to reclaim their van (on February 5), investigators found a decomposing body inside the vehicle.

Investigators said the dead man had been shot and killed. He was sitting in the rear of the van.

"There is no explanation as to how the deceased victim remained in the vehicle without being detected," Rallings said.

Rallings said an internal investigation is underway into how the body went undetected for seven weeks.

"I can assure you. I will get the answers as to why we failed to locate the victim inside the vehicle until yesterday." Rallings said. "The victims deserve better; the families of the victims deserve better...This incident is unacceptable and should never have happened."

For 49 days the body went unnoticed, untouched by investigators as it sat inside a cargo van at the MPD impound lot in North Memphis.

"I just can't explain how this victim stayed in a van and we did not locate him until the victim showed up to recover the van," Rallings said.

Police said when the men fought back, shots were fired, hitting not just the driver as investigators initially reported, but also a man in the backseat.

In fact, investigators didn't learn of the third person in the van until January 22. The driver's injuries prevented detectives from speaking to him sooner.

"I assure you, we will get to the bottom of it. We will determine all of the facts and hold individuals accountable for actions they took or actions they did not take," Rallings said.

Monday afternoon, the driver made the grim discovery while picking up his van at MPD's impound lot.

The department's internal investigation is now calling into question MPD's policy and procures for processing evidence.

"I think we are all upset," Rallings said. "We want to deliver the service our citizens deserve and I can't say that we did that in this situation and it's unacceptable."

Rallings said if the internal investigation finds policy was violated, disciplinary action will be taken.

Police are still working to positively ID the man found in the van.

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