ACT Towing Given Verbal Permission To Release Car It Stored as Evidence?

WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP -- Newswatch 16 has obtained a new police report, detailing how a car that was supposed to be key evidence in an attempted homicide case in Luzerne County ended up being destroyed.

The report shows mistakes made by a towing company and by police.

A source gave Newswatch 16 the report after being fed up about the police investigation into the missing car.  The report shows the investigation was done by the Luzerne County district attorney's office, with the help of state police.

It shows how ACT Towing was supposed to store the car but mistakenly released it to be destroyed.

Newswatch 16 was there when Melissa Scholl's 2001 Saturn was found in a bus parking lot near Wilkes-Barre last year, surrounded by police tape.

Police accuse Scholl of connecting a hose from the car's exhaust to its windows with herself and her two kids inside.

According to an impound ticket that's a part of the new police report, ACT Towing first impounded the car in December 2015. The ticket might be the only documentation of what happened to the car.

The report shows Paul Jones, who's a manager at ACT Towing near Wilkes-Barre, told authorities that a state trooper and a Wilkes-Barre Township police detective searched the car. After they finished, Jones says the state trooper verbally told him the car could be released.

But Jones admits he received nothing in writing from the state police, the D.A.'s office, or Wilkes-Barre Township police authorizing the destruction or sale of the vehicle, nor did he send a certified letter to Scholl advising her the car would be sold.

According to the police report, Jones tried to call Scholl to see if she wanted her car back, but Scholl did not have her phone. She's been locked up at the Luzerne County jail for those two attempted homicide charges for the past year.

The report shows the vehicle was taken to a junk yard near Hazleton, where it may have been crushed. The district attorney's office and Scholl's attorney could not talk to Newswatch 16 about the case because of a gag order. So Newswatch 16 showed Wilkes-Barre defense attorney Barry Dyller what we found.

“Certainly the owner of the towing facility did go through the proper procedures,” he said.

In the police report, Jones of ACT Towing admitted, “Ultimately, it was our fault for getting rid of the vehicle...I can't believe this happened. I'm upset...I don't want to see this happen again. I don't want anyone to get in trouble.”

The report also shows a Wilkes-Barre Township detective said he should have stored Scholl's car at the township's garage site, not at a private facility since it was a "serious police investigation."

The state trooper who ACT Towing says gave verbal permission to release the car would not give a statement. The report indicates his police union advised him not to.

“That's unacceptable. Law enforcement has a duty to each other and the public to at least tell what they know about a criminal investigation,” said Dyller.

Previously, Scholl's attorney tried to get the attempted homicide charges dismissed because that key evidenced car is missing. A judge has still not ruled on that request.

2 comments

  • DUH!

    Who trains these people? Cracker Jack box badges? This is all too common everywhere in this area. So many in “authority” don’t have a clue but walk around with a load of self importance!!! Andy and Barney would have done a better job!

  • Derp

    It was a ‘key evidence in an attempted homicide case’, yet they broke the evidence chain – leaving it unattended and unsecured in a private lot for almost a year. Then wonder what happened to it when it comes time to go to court. Anyone could have done anything to it in that time making it inadmissible if questioned. Put your ducks in order before wasting the courts time. Also, If no one paid the bill for storage, they have the right to get rid of it under abandoned property hence the reason why they called the owner of the car, didn’t hear back and ditched it.

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