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KPD: Man charged with murder after body found in van he was driving

Darius Smith was charged with first-degree murder as well as felony evading arrest and reckless driving, which stemmed from fleeing from officers.
Once a search warrant was conducted on the van that Smith was driving, the body of Goins was found inside. Officials said he had been shot multiple times.
Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 11:41 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Knoxville man was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after the body of a missing man was found in the van he was driving, according to a release from the Knoxville Police Department.

On March 31, around 3:00 p.m., KPD officers responded to the residence of 1012 Leon Drive about the disappearance of 27-year-old Justin Goins. Officials learned from witnesses that Goins’ car was initially parked behind the address along with a maroon Chrysler minivan.

Witnesses attempted to approach the man in the minivan, driven by Darius Smith, 25, of Knoxville, but he reportedly left the scene quickly and fled.

Once on the scene, investigators said Goins’ vehicle was gone; however, it was found shortly after abandoned on French Road.

“The victim’s car had been thoroughly cleaned with a chemical cleaner, but a small amount of blood was found in the cupholder of the victim’s vehicle,” KPD spokesperson Scott Erland said.

On April 1, at around 3:15 p.m., officers responded to the area of Oldham Avenue and Elm Street after receiving an LPR hit that the Chrysler van was in the area. After committing a traffic violation, officers reportedly tried to stop the driver, identified as Smith.

Investigators said he fled the scene north on Elm Street before crashing into a tree at the intersection of Elm and Virginia Avenue. He reportedly ran from the scene but was taken into custody by officers inside a home in the 700 block of West Emerald Avenue shortly after.

Once a search warrant was conducted on the van that Smith was driving, the body of Goins was found inside. Officials said he had been shot multiple times.

Smith was charged with first-degree murder as well as felony evading arrest and reckless driving, which stemmed from fleeing from officers.

The investigation remains ongoing.

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