Family of hit-and-run victim forced to pay tow bill

LIBERTY, Mo. — A family in Liberty still grieving from the death of their loved one now faces a hefty bill.

They said they’ve been forced to pay thousands to get the victim’s vehicle back after it was towed and held as evidence by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

John Paul Scheidecker was killed in Clay County nearly a year ago in a hit-and-run.

Investigators are still looking into if it was intentional or not, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

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The Scheidecker family said they’ve now paid more than $17,000 to get their loved one’s truck back, after it was taken into evidence.

“Why was there a $17,500 bill, when we had no say whatsoever on the truck being held,” brother Luke Scheidecker said. “It’s just adding to our stress level now, dealing with his death, dealing with all the things that come with his death, and now on top of that, you get stuck with a bill for that much money.”

Last July, John Paul Scheidecker was killed near 120th street, between A Highway and Fishing River Road.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said Scheidecker was outside his truck when he was hit by a vehicle.

Investigators said the driver did not stop. Nearly a year later, they’re still searching for a suspect.

The Sheriff’s Office said Scheidecker’s truck was an important piece of evidence.

“We didn’t even get any closure seeing the truck, I haven’t even seen the truck, mom hasn’t seen the truck,” Scheidecker said.

“We retained the truck for investigation while we waited on subpoenas to collect electronic data from it.” Sarah Boyd with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said. “The position of some items inside the truck also indicated another person could possibly have been in it prior to the crash, and we had to wait on DNA results to rule that out. To preserve that evidence, the truck had to be kept inside.”

The Sheriff’s Office had L&L towing take Scheidecker’s truck to Owner Jay Lemons’ lot in Liberty.

Lemons said they’ve been in business for nearly 40 years.

“It was stored in our garage, and stored inside to be protected for evidentiary value,” Lemons said, “the sheriff’s department put a hold on it.”

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Lemons was looking to get paid for his services. He charges $60 a day for storage. Plus, $440 for the initial tow.

He said the bill came out to more than $17,000.

“I am sorry the family is going through what they’re going through,” Lemons said. “I was asked to do a job, I’ve done that job.”

The lienholder paid the tow bill on May 3, and took the truck into their possession, according to the sheriff’s office.

Although the family had been making monthly payments to the bank, Luke said they never got a call that they could pick it up.

“IAA, Insurance Auto Auction, paid with that check and picked up the vehicle,” Lemon said.

Luke said in May, he went to get some of his brother’s belongings out of the truck and discovered it was gone.

He found out Thursday insurance would not pay the bill. So, he said family paid the band more than $17,000 to keep their loved one’s truck from going to auction.

“It’s fallen on our family, right,” Luke said. “We didn’t ask for this, we didn’t ask for him to die, we didn’t ask for that extra element of stress, it’s not fair, it’s not right.”

Working for you, we asked the sheriff’s office, who’s responsible for paying when a vehicle is being held for evidence.

Boyd said insurance often pays, but it falls on the victim or family.

“There should be something set up to protect families from this thing – $17,000 is a lot of money,” Luke said. Luke said. “This was held for an investigation, we had no say in if the truck was held and then get stuck with a bill that was that expensive that’s bind blowing to me.”

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said it contracts with 15 area tow companies. It is “looking at reviewing policies – to include reduced rates – for vehicles involved in crimes that must be held for evidence. If tow companies want to continue to do business with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, they will have to agree to those terms.”

Boyd said they hope to have new contracts for tow companies by the end of the year.

“We realize how difficult this is for the family to deal with on top of their grief and the unsolved nature of their loved one’s death. That’s why we’ve been working to change our policies and contracts with tow companies,” Boyd said. “Unfortunately, there are no public funding sources or systems in place to allow for the storage of evidentiary vehicles, barring a state legislative change, which we would love to see. This has occurred in cases throughout the state.”

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Boyd also said they’re revising their policies to “minimize the amount of time evidentiary vehicles must remain at a tow facility to mitigate costs to victims.”

There’s also a $7,000 reward leading to an arrest in this case and welcome any tips, no matter how small. If you have information, call Crime Stoppers at 816-474-TIPS.


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