November 28, 2009
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada (25) runs out of his home into a snowstorm without his shoes, socks, keys, or car; he will remain missing for 10 years
Murillo-Moncada worked the evening of Thanksgiving, November 26 at the No Frills Supermarket, where he had been employed for 5 years. According to his mother Anna Murillo, Murillo-Moncada seemed disoriented when he returned home the following morning. His family took him to a doctor who prescribed antidepressant medication, though the treatment did not seem to work. Murillo-Moncada continued to feel disoriented and began to hear voices. Anna Murillo told reporters through a friend who acted as an interpreter, “He was hearing voices that said ‘eat sugar.’ He felt his heart was beating too hard and thought if he ate sugar, his heart would not beat so hard.”
The next day, on November 28, Murillo-Moncada began hallucinating. “He said somebody was following him, and he was scared,” Anna Murillo told reporters. Murillo-Moncada then suddenly ran outside into a snowstorm without socks or shoes on, and without taking his keys, cellphone, or car.
Murillo-Moncada’s parents filed a missing persons report when he did not return, and immediately began to question their son’s co-workers and employers, believing he had returned to the store. “The mother,” Sgt. Brandon Danielson of the Council Bluffs Police Department said years later, “she kind of had an idea that he had never left the No Frills. I don’t know how she came up with that idea.” None of the store’s employees or management had any information to provide aside from noting Murillo-Moncada was not scheduled to work that day.
Murillo-Moncada’s other relatives were contacted in hopes he had spoken with or visited them. Additionally, as Murillo-Moncada’s family had moved to the United States from Honduras, local law enforcement checked with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the event he had been detained or deported. When no further leads were brought forth, Murillo-Moncada’s case went cold.
The No Frill Supermarket closed for business in 2016. On January 24, 2019, workers dismantling and removing equipment from the store found a human corpse which appeared “to have been there for an extended period of time.” The body was behind a cooler unit in an area that had been designated for employees only, tucked in an 18-inch (46cm) gap between the cooler and the wall. The body was in a state of decomposition which made identifying features, such as sex or age, difficult with a casual visual inspection. However, due to the clothing worn by the body, it was immediately suspected to have belonged to Murillo-Moncada who had been wearing similar articles when he was last seen. The body was later confirmed to be that of Murillo-Moncada after DNA testing was conducted between his parents and the corpse.
Former employees gave statements that the store’s workers would commonly climb on top of the cooler to store items or to “hide” during unofficial breaks. It has been speculated Murillo-Moncada climbed on top of the cooler then fell 12-feet (3.7-meters) to the ground behind the cooler. The noise generated from the cooler’s motor likely dampened any cries Murillo-Moncada would have made according to Sgt. Danielson. “It’s so loud, there’s probably no way anyone heard him.” Murillo-Moncada’s autopsy showed no signs of trauma and his death was deemed accidental.
“Everyone has questions,” Murillo-Moncada’s father Victor Murillo told reporters through an interpreter. The Murillos’ attorney, James Martin Davis, posed several questions, including why no one smelled Murillo-Moncada’s body decomposing or, when the Murillos’ asked the supermarket managers about their missing son, if camera footage was examined.
Reporters asked the Murillos if their son had any friends he had worked with. After a pause, Victor Murillo responded, “No one has come forward to give us information so, no, I don’t believe he had any friends there.”
Any information about Murillo-Moncada’s case should be directed to Davis’ law office at 402-341-9900.
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