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Denver Man’s Fight With Toyota Over Murdered Mom’s Car Goes Viral

DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver man is disappointed that it took a Facebook post that went viral before Toyota started being sensitive to his family’s financial situation following a tragic death.

Aaron Knudsen, 24, has been dealing with a mountain of paperwork since his mother Denise Fransua’s was killed a month ago. Fransua was murdered by a former boyfriend who then killed himself. Knudsen and his 17-year-old sister were then the only people who could take care of their mother’s financial matters.

The biggest headache was Fransua’s car. It was taken into evidence after the murder. Once it was cleared Knudsen went to the lot, only to be told Toyota had repossesed it.

Knudsen then called Toyota.

“I said ‘Where is the car?’ Why did they take it? I couldn’t really get a good answer,” he told CBS4.

Aaron Knudsen

Aaron Knudsen with his mother and sister before the murder (credit: CBS)

Knudsen says he had kept payments on the car up to date and he wanted to finance the rest.

“They told me I had to come up with the full balance of the car, along with an impound fee they paid,” he said.

“My mom was a single mother, I’m only 24, my sister’s 17, where am I going to get $4,400 in 20 days? (The Toyota employee’s) response was ‘This is what the state allows us to do.”

Knudsen went on Facebook and shared his feeling about what he felt was an unfair situation. Many friends were upset, and some started making posts on Toyota’s page saying how upset they were, too. There are now dozens of comments on Toyota’s page with people writing “Shame on you Toyota” in reference to the situation.

Representatives with Toyota saw what was happening and just recently the company waived the fees they had thrown at Knudsen. They also released the following statement:

We want to convey our sincere apology that yesterday we were not sensitive to the extraordinary circumstances leading to this car being impounded.

Toyota says they will allow Knudsen to retrieve his mother’s possessions that were in the car, but the company says Knudsen will have to pay the remaining balance on the car up front — $3,300 — to get the car back.

“It’s amazing that a story has to leak like this and has to go viral in order for a company to do what’s right,” Knudsen said.

  • Mike

    I’ll never buy a Toyota again. I currently have two but nevere again. What a bunch of losers.

  • Nate

    I will buy toyota again, great cars. This was one dealerships mistake, not the company. And I could come up with similar articles for EVERY car maker who sells here in America.

  • Christine

    “Toyota says they will allow Knudsen to retrieve his mother’s possessions that were in the car, but the company says Knudsen will have to pay the remaining balance on the car up front — $3,300 — to get the car back.” One would think that they’d waive the $3,300 in order to save face. I have owned 1 Toyota in my life and it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever buy another.

  • notsurprised

    The Toyota employee’s response, “This is what the state allows us to do” was particularly telling. I’m sure the state allows them to let a responsible family member take over the payments too if they choose. They act like the state told them they had to repossess the auto, which is unlikely to be the case.

    Where can I send $20 to help this young man buy his mother’s car back?

  • cakefordinner

    Well, I posted on Toyota USA’s wall, just a little while ago, and you could’ve knocked me down with a feather when they responded. My ego has a hard time believing that it’s because of my post, but you never know. I’ll wait to see if their “we’ve been in touch with the family to make things right” goes like it should. Giving them the damn car, as I suggested they should.

  • Never to buy a Toyota

    I will Make sure to tell 10 friends and have them to tell 10 friends and on and on. NEVER BUY A TOYOTA. You have an opportunity to help someone really in need and you simply won’t. Stop being greedy. The car’s value is less that the $3300.

  • Bob spelled backwards

    At a time when many people are defaulting on their car loans, and finance companies are taking it in the shorts, you’d think Toyota would be thrilled that he wanted to get a loan to pay off the balance on the car. He kept up the payments, and is grieving over the loss of his mother while going through a mountain of details that no 24 year old should have to manage. Shame on Toyota for being so cold hearted and short-sighted. Repossessing this car, and selling it at auction won’t net them anywhere near the outstanding balance. Of course, they’ll have no problem suing the mother’s estate for any shortfall. They lost this car, a few bucks, and a lot of potential customers.

  • RON

    Just wanted to add my voice to the news of this…SHAME ON TOYOTA…will flip off Toyota dealerships every time see one…hope they see the shame they have brought on to this situtation….sorry Aaron for your lost and hassels.

  • sandy


  • Susan

    How can I make a contribution towards the $3300 so this guy can get his mom’s car back?

  • Will

    I’ll contribute too. The family should set up a fund somewhere thru a bank. Sounds like a lot of people wanna help out.

  • K.

    I am unaware if there is a fund specifically for Aaron getting his mother’s car back, but there is a memorial fund for Denise’s family. It is through Security Service Credit Union. It is called the “Denise Fransua Memorial Fund”

  • Parris Boyd

    Despite claims to the contrary, its obvious that Toyota has learned no lessons from all the recent fines, recalls for every defect imaginable, investigations, and a zillion lawsuits alleging coverup. As one of their many dissatisfied customers, I’ve been blogging about the Recall King for quite some time at

  • mike

    Buy Honda, problem solved

  • nobama2012

    i think its a little funny when the actions of a lowly collections employee are imputed to the character of the company as a whole. this is a sad situation, sure, and the repo should not have happened, but that doesn’t mean a company is evil.

  • Joecode

    Why should Toyota just give this man $3300 and trust he will pay it back? They don’t do handshake loans. He needs to go and finance the remaining balance on his Mom’s car and Toyota would be happy to release the equity that IS Toyota’s. I don’t understand why this man’s whiny little tirade expecting Toyota to automatically finance him just because they financed his mother has been treated so sympathetically.

    • atoyatocustomer

      Well the fact that he has continued keeping the payments current so far, despite not having the car in his possession at all, all while dealing with the mountain of details and grief that await when a loved one dies, surely bodes well for the likelihood of being repaid, far more likely than the odds of recouping that money by repossessing the car and selling it at auction.

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