No one could have anticipated the shocking discovery in an old, closed-down No Frills Supermarket in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Contractors went to work on the vacant building, thinking they were just going in for the daily grind on an ordinary, cold day in January 2019. employee employee employee employee employee employee employee employee
They probably started their day like anyone else, drinking a hot cup of coffee before venturing into hard manual labor. But this would be no run-of-the-mill type of workday for them. As they started removing the store’s empty shelving units and coolers, they found something deeply disturbing: a human body of an employee! It is a sight that most people would rather not have to face or come across, especially not when they least expect it.
Authorities could not immediately identify the body or even determine the person’s sex or age. It had to be sent to the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office for a thorough autopsy. Only then could the individual be identified as Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada, a man who had been reported missing 10 years ago back in 2009.
Murillo-Moncada was only 25 years-old when he disappeared. He worked as an employee at the No Frills Supermarket while it was still operational. The mystery over his initial disappearance turned into a new mystery as the recovery of his remains sparked more questions than answers. People were baffled, wondering how a young guy could just die at work one day and go unnoticed for years on end? Almost an entire decade undetected.
He was reported missing on November 28, 2009 during the midst of a heavy snowstorm.
His parents last saw him leaving with no shoes, no socks, no keys, and no car. Before his disappearance, he was reportedly experiencing some severe mental health issues. His mother explained that he arrived home from work that Thanksgiving seeming very disoriented.
He began hearing voices telling him to eat sugar. He complained that his heart was beating too hard and that he needed sugar to calm it. He also felt that he was being followed and he was very scared. It is possible that he was experiencing some form of psychosis provoked by intense anxiety, causing schizophrenia-like symptoms of paranoia, hallucinations and delusions.
He’d just been prescribed antidepressants by a doctor upon his disappearance. He ran off and was never heard from again. There was no activity on his debit or credit card and the No Frills Supermarket reported that he stopped showing up for work. For a long time, his whereabouts remained unknown. His poor mother must have been frantic.
Here’s what is believed to have happened.
Former employees at the No Frills Supermarket explained that they would sometimes climb into the space above the coolers, which was used for storage. Murillo-Moncada went into work on that fateful day and probably tried to climb into the storage space. Perhaps he was still feeling distressed and needed some time alone to gather himself. Maybe he viewed the storage space as a good place to do this.
Or perhaps he just needed to grab something. Whatever the case may be, we can speculate that when he pulled himself on top of the coolers, he must have fallen behind them. He then became trapped in the 12 foot, 18-inch wide space between the coolers and the wall. Now here’s the disturbing part of the story.
Because the noise being generated by the coolers was so loud, there is probably no way that anyone could have heard him if he screamed for help. That means that if he did not die instantly from the fall, he could have met a very lonely, slow and terrifying demise, almost like one would feel being buried alive. Only, in this case, there were people around who could have helped him, but sadly, he was powerless to get their attention.
To make matters worse, he wasn’t scheduled to work that day, so no one even knew he was there or thought to look for him.
By the time he was found, Murillo-Moncada’s body was completely unrecognizable.
He was only able to be identified using the DNA from his parents. This probably provided them with the worst kind of closure, as they probably hoped their son was still alive somewhere.
Investigators examined the results of the autopsy and determined his death to be accidental. Still, one can’t help but wonder how the No Frills Supermarket managed to go so long without discovering the body. It is creepy to think that the employees probably continued to utilize the storage space while not realizing that there was a dead coworker lying beneath them.
How, throughout the span of many years, did they never once think to check or clean the space back there? How could a body just remain unfound in a public space for so long? The eerie component to this story may be the thought that this can indeed happen and if it occurred for Murillo-Moncada, it can happen to you too. So, then you might wonder if this has happened anywhere else.
People are reported missing all the time. So how many bodies remain unfound in the most obvious of places? At your local grocery store, your favorite novelty shop, a restaurant you frequently visit. For the Iowa No Frills Supermarket, this was certainly the case.
Shoppers innocently frequented the store for years, blissfully unaware that death hid behind the coolers in the back room. You see this type of story on crime shows and mystery thrillers, but you never anticipate that something like this could be brought so close to home.
For this reason, Murillo-Moncada’s father, Victor Murillo, demanded answers.
It is understandable that he would be just as baffled over the situation as anyone else. And even more so since he was directly related to the victim. The grieving father, suffering tremendous pain over the loss asked the question, “how can a body just be there [undetected]?”
Investigators described the situation as being “very unique,” to say the least! The store continued to run for seven long years after Murillo-Moncada’s fatal disappearance. It only just closed its doors in 2016, 3 years before his body was uncovered.
Perhaps after hearing this story, you may never walk into a supermarket the same way again. It’s hard to think about and spooky enough to make your skin crawl. Yet, it teaches a ghastly lesson that tragedy can lurk in the shadows of everyday, mundane life.
And there is another lesson to be learned from the events that lead to Moncada’s disappearance and death. That is, the problems associated with his mental health that pushed him to run away from home in the first place and act in irrational ways, heading out amid a snowstorm without being properly equipped with shoes or socks.
We believe in the vitality of mental health and if you or someone you know struggles from anxiety or cognitive disturbance, you should seek help right away. Your mental health is as important as your physical health and should be taken just as seriously. There is nothing shameful about receiving help and we strongly encourage it.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Murillo-Moncada are unfortunate and mysterious. One can’t help but wonder what he must have experienced or felt during his final hours. Though grim, one can only hope that, when he fell, he landed on his head and died instantaneously because at least that would have been a better fate than what could have transpired against him. Namely, being consumed by the fear and awareness of being trapped.
Since the autopsy of his body could not find an exact cause of death, there is no way to know for certain what went on behind those coolers during the time. All we know for sure is that it went on under the noses of those working and shopping at that No-Frills Supermarket and this is a grisly reality that won’t soon be forgotten.