Things That Matter

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

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.

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