In November 2009, Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada’s family reported him missing. Earlier this year, investigators finally found his body behind a cooler at the grocery store where he once worked.
At the time, his family told police that their son had been behaving strangely because of a new medication he was taking. He’d been acting out, and on the night he disappeared, he had gotten so upset that he fled from their home into a snowstorm.
Investigators searched for Murillo-Moncada, then just 25 years old, everywhere. He wasn’t in jail or the hospital. Nor had he run afoul of US Immigration and Customs—something that had happened in the past, when he was briefly deported to Honduras.
We know now why they were unable to find a trace of the young man. It seems that he had gone to the No Frills Supermarket in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he worked. The employees sometimes climbed up on top of the coolers at the back of the building for a smoke break. It probably seemed like a good place to be alone for a while. Then things went terribly wrong.
Investigators believe that Murillo-Moncada fell into the 18-inch gap between the back of the coolers and the building wall. He was trapped there, unable to be heard due to the noise of the fans and compressors. His death—which has been ruled accidental—must have been nightmarish.
Even worse, the body remained there for almost a decade. Although the grocery store is abandoned now, it remained in operation until 2016. His parents are, understandably, devastated. Victor Murillo told reporters, “Our heads are spinning, finding this out after so many years, and it is distressing. It makes us feel a lot of pain.”
Murillo still can’t understand how it was possible that his son’s remains were undiscovered for so long. “They closed the building,” Murillo said. “The freezers weren’t working anymore. So how can a body just be there?”