Things That Matter

Ten Years After Going Missing, A Latino Man’s Body Was Found Behind The Supermarket Where He Worked And People Are Shocked

Larry Moncada / Facebook

Ten years ago, Iowa worker Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada disappeared, with family members, desperate for answers, completely in the dark about his whereabouts, and a police force similarly bewildered by his vanishing. On Monday, the Council Bluffs, Iowa community finally received some answers: the remains found at a vacant supermarket in the area back in January were identified as that of Murillo‐Moncada.

The man was an employee at the same supermarket his body was found at 10 years after going missing.

Credit: @Complex / Twitter

The man, who worked at the No Frills Supermarket Store on West Broadway, had been missing since November 28, 2009. According to ABC News, the 25-year-old Honduran immigrant stomped out of his parents’ home seething during a snowstorm that fall. The Des Moines Register added that Murillo‐Moncada ran out of his house “with no shoes, no socks, no keys, [and] no car.”

The late man’s mother, Ana Moncada, said she is still unsure what prompted her son’s anger and departure. At the time of his disappearance, she told the Daily Nonpareil that after returning from work on Thanksgiving night, he seemed disoriented. She took him to the doctor, where he was prescribed an antidepressant, the day before he went missing, but she noted that he continued to appear confused and had even expressed that he was beginning to hallucinate. 

“He was hearing voices that said ‘eat sugar,’” Maria Stockton, a friend who served as a translator for his mother, told the paper back in 2009. “He felt his heart was beating too hard and thought if he ate sugar, his heart would not beat so hard.”

She added: “He said somebody was following him, and he was scared.”

The family believed that he was acting irrationally because of the new medication.

Authorities surmise Murillo‐Moncada left his home and went to the supermarket where he was employed but wasn’t scheduled to work that day and sat on top of some coolers. According to former employees of the now shut-down establishment, the area, which was used as storage for merchandise, was a common space for workers to rest during their breaks when they wanted to be alone. 

His parents said he had ran out of the house without shoes and thought people were after him.

Credit: @InsideEdition / Twitter

Officials believe that while sitting on the cooler, Murillo‐Moncada fell within an 18-inch gap between the back of the large appliance and a wall and became trapped. They notion that if he had fallen sideways, as they suspect he did, and as a result had gotten crammed in, he likely would not have been able to scream for help. Even if Murillo‐Moncada had cried out, they presume it would have been almost impossible to hear his wails over the tremendously loud noise of the coolers.

With Murillo‐Moncada’s parents unaware of where he stormed off to and employees not expecting him in the store on his day off, investigators did not consider searching the supermarket, Council Bluffs police Sgt. Ted Roberts told ABC News. During the time of the probe, officers contacted family members, other law enforcement agencies, nearby detention centers and even the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, as Murillo-Moncada had been deported to Honduras before returning to the United States. However, authorities say they never received information regarding his possible whereabouts. As a result, the body, which was hidden and had gone unnoticed for almost 10 years, was badly decomposed.

His body has decayed so badly, it took months to identify the victim.

Credit: @DMRegister / Twitter

On January 24, 2019, a crew that was removing shelving and coolers at the now-vacant grocery store discovered the body. His corpse had so severely decayed that it took months for the body to be identified as that of Murillo-Moncada. Medical examiners were ultimately able to determine the remains through DNA analysis, police said. Council Bluffs Police Capt. Todd Weddum told CNN that investigators used his parents’ DNA to confirm the identity and noted that the clothes matched the description of his outfit at the time he was reported missing.

Police did not offer an official cause of death, but they have ruled it accidental as the autopsy report did not show signs of trauma.

While the discovery answers many questions for a family and police force that for a decade had little-to-no knowledge on Murillo-Moncada’s location and condition, several queries remain, namely how neither employees nor patrons were able to detect the smell of the decaying body in the grocery store, which closed in 2016, or the impact the new medication had on the late man’s behavior.

READ: Neighbors Formed A Human Chain To Prevent This Man From Getting Deported And It’s The Most Beautiful Act Of Humanity I’ve Seen

An Undocumented Girl From Guatemala Was Locked In A Room And Sexually Assaulted By Relatives, According To A Report

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An Undocumented Girl From Guatemala Was Locked In A Room And Sexually Assaulted By Relatives, According To A Report

niu niu / Unsplash

TW: This story contains disturbing anecdotes of sexual violence.

Arizona’s Customs and Border Patrol Agency (CBP) announced the arrest of an Iowa couple for human smuggling and sexual assault after a Guatemalan girl was found in the streets of Sioux City and told her story to authorities. The girl, whose name will not be released for her own safety, is being referred as  “ABF” on the federal affidavit detailing the perpetrator’s charges. Amy Francisco and her husband, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas have been arrested and charged.

The couple was arrested in San Diego, but will likely face a federal court in Iowa.

ABF was found wandering Sioux City, urgently telling pedestrians she’d been sexually assaulted.

Credit: @CBPArizona / Twitter

From there, Sioux City police interviewed ABF to learn that she and her father, Fernando Bartolo-Francisco were smuggled into the U.S. by relatives, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas and his wife Amy Francisco. She said they were released from El Paso Detention Center because of overcrowding and were flown to Omaha by their relatives.

The couple then locked ABF in a room with a metal bed and a bucket for a bathroom.

Google Images

Above is a Google image of the couple’s home where she was allegedly locked in. The affidavit said that, “ABF then stated Cristobal raped her and that Amy watched it happen from the door to the locked room. After being raped five times, ABF stated that one morning Cristobal left for work and did not lock the door.”

She then snuck out of the house while Amy Francisco was sleeping. She roamed the streets looking for someone who spoke Spanish to help her. 

The Iowa couple admitted to smuggling ABF in but requested an attorney when law enforcement began questioning them for the alleged rape of ABF.

Credit: @mosettastone / Twitter

Francisco-Nicolas told police that he made arrangements for a coyote to transfer the father and daughter to the U.S. after learning through his sister that they were desperate to leave Guatemala. 

“Cristobal stated he knows he messed up and the mistake he made was receiving these people,” the affidavit said. “Cristobal requested an attorney when law enforcement began to question him about the alleged rape of ABF.”

In response, some folks are taking the opportunity to demand CBP shut down the concentration camps and seek justice for victims within the system.

Credit: @johuyik / Twitter

In February 2019, a report was released that detailed thousands of immigrant children saying they were sexually abused in U.S. detention centers. Between 2012 and March 2018 alone, there were 1,448 allegations of sexual abuse filed with ICE. Certainly, not every victim files a complaint. 

Last year, the ACLU helped an asylum-seeker from Honduras file suit against an employee at a detention center for failure to protect her from sexual violence.

Untitled. Digital Image. ACLU. 17 July 2019

 Court documents detail how her abuser threatened her with possible deportation while their coworkers stood by and continued the jokes. There are laws in place that criminalize any kind of sexual behavior between a correctional facility staff member and the people in their custody. That’s because consent cannot happen when powers are imbalanced. This facility is still trying to deflect responsibility by saying the detainee “consented.”

Some people are taking the opportunity to blame Democrats for ABF’s assault.

Credit: @THE_DAILY_BLEAT / Twitter

Given that ICE and CBP are not being held accountable by anyone. That fact, among many others including the conditions of the camps themselves, has incited public outrage, nationwide protests, and finger-pointing on both sides of the aisle. 

Everyone seems to agree on one thing: prosecute.

Credit: @CAWPBT / Twitter

Folks who don’t want to see immigrants in this country are weaponizing the tragedy by alleging it as cause to close the border. Folks who care about immigrants see the instance as a clear example of why undocumented immigrants should be granted basic rights that would allow ABF’s father to be lawfully employed and to live openly.

The culture of fear for undocumented immigrants makes them among the most vulnerable members of our society. ABF was not registered with a school. Her father couldn’t go to authorities without risking deportation. It’s clear that an undocumented child wouldn’t go looking for the police unless her claims were valid. 

Yes, prosecute these individuals, and also make it safer for every family to exist without harm.

READ: Major Hotel Chains Are Rolling Out Panic Buttons To Protect Their Employees From Sexual Assault

UPDATE: Eighth American Dies In The Dominican Republic And Families Are Pressuring The US Government To Demand Answers

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UPDATE: Eighth American Dies In The Dominican Republic And Families Are Pressuring The US Government To Demand Answers

Leyla Cox / Facebook

Leyla Cox, 55, will be the second American tourist whose body was found in their hotel room in just three days. Joseph E. Allen III, a New Jersey tourist, was found dead on June 13 after feeling sick the night before. Leyla Cox was found on June 10 in Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana.

A forensic report obtained by the hotel reveals that Cox died of a heart attack. Officials say the country is “no less safe than it was before,” according to a CNN report.

Leyla Cox’s family is reluctant to accept the country’s autopsy report.

@OstapiukJ / Twitter

Cox was visiting the Dominican Republic to celebrate her birthday and planned to be back in New York within a week. Her son, William Cox, told ABC 7 News that, “it’s been a non-stop nightmare ever since I got that phone call.”

Dominican officials are calling the deaths isolated events.

@rodrigmarchena / Twitter

“In the last five years, over 30 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic, but this is the first time the international media report such an alarming situation,” Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia responded. “These are isolated incidents and the Dominican Republic is a safe destination.”

But people don’t want to hear the same lines. They want answers.

@diegoarisot / Twitter

“These tweets against the negative reports from The New York Times and FOX News serve nothing,” reads the tweet. “Clarify the deaths and let the world know, starting with your said means.”

Authorities continue to state the same stances–these are isolated incidents. Americans are growing more and more frustrated with the lack of local investigations into the matter.

The family of Joseph E. Allen III, found in his hotel room on June 13th, won’t stop searching for answers.

@essence / Twitter

Joe’s family has been told that Joe started feeling sick on Wednesday night. He felt like he had a fever, and decided to skip going out with his friends to take a cold shower and rest. By Thursday morning, his friends were worried that he wasn’t answering his hotel phone. They asked the hotel staff to let them into his room, where his body was found in rigor mortis.

Joe’s only son arrived a couple of hours later for a scheduled celebration of Father’s Day.

@ArubaRuthnell / Twitter

He didn’t find out his dad had passed until after he landed. Joe’s brother, Jason, told Essence that once Joe’s son “got there that they were performing an autopsy on my brother without any consent and [my nephew] was told that it was the law of the land.”

The family has penned New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez to demand justice for Joe.

@SenatorMenendez / Twitter

“My family and I are afraid that my brother was a victim of a wrongful death,” Jason wrote. “Being aware of the recent number of mysterious deaths occurring in the Dominican Republic, we immediately attempted to contact the U.S. Embassy…for answers and seeking any help they could offer in getting an investigation started with an autopsy done back in the United States.”

On May 30, a couple was found dead in their hotel room.

@JesusComing2033 / Twitter

Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49, were found in their rooms at the Bahia Principe La Romana Resort. They both had internal bleeding and damage to their pancreases. Holmes was reported by authorities to have an enlarged heart and cirrhosis of the liver–significant signs of a pre-existing, dangerous condition.

The New York Post reports that they collapsed and died after drinking from the minibar.

In April, a California man reportedly died after drinking from his hotel minibar.

Robert Wallace, 67, died in his Hard Rock Hotel room. After having scotch from the minibar, he started experiencing blood in his urine and stool immediately afterward.

The FBI is now investigating the cause of these deaths–suspected to be poisoning.

@nypost / Twitter

Many of the official reports of death have not been released to the public just yet, and families are feeling frustrated. Not a single toxicology report, which would indicate poisoning, has been released.

There are no travel advisories for Americans regarding the Dominican Republic just yet.

@jayracruzz / Twitter

Though many Americans are taking to Twitter to announce their plan to avoid the DR until more information is released. Others are making sure that the world knows: “Dominican Republic is not bad.”

READ: This Dominican Republic Hotel Just Claimed Its 6th Victim And Experts Think The Mini Bar Is To Blame