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There is an easier way to handle this without the need to deal with the title or the scrap yard directly. Park the Van on the street and call the local police and tell them that the Van is abandoned and that it needs to be towed. The authorities will tag the Van and place an abandoned notice on it. After a few days they will arrange for the vehicle to be towed. Since the Van is titled to your mother's ex-husband any search of the VIN will lead there not to you.
Here is the law on Abandoned Vehicles:
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