Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada

Remains of missing convenience store employee found 10 years later in 18-inch gap behind store freezer

The remains of an Iowa man who disappeared 10 years ago were discovered in January, in an opening behind a freezer inside a convenience store he worked at. On Monday, officials confirmed that the remains were positively identified through a DNA match.

Washington Post reports that 25-year-old Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada was an employee at a No Frills Supermarket in Council Bluffs, Iowa, when vanished on November 28, 2009, after fleeing his parent’s home during a snowstorm.

Murillo-Moncada reportedly had gotten into an argument with his parents inside the residence before fleeing barefoot. The man’s mother said he was feeling disoriented and hearing voices after starting a new antidepressant medication. When he failed to return, Murillo-Moncada’s parents called police and reported him missing.

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“He was hearing voices that said ‘Eat sugar,'” friend Maria Stockton said in 2009 while translating what Murillo-Moncada’s said, according to Omaha News-Herald.. “He felt his heart was beating too hard and thought if he ate sugar, his heart would not beat so hard.”

For 10 years, the man’s family and law enforcement exhausted every avenue possible while trying to find him. On Monday, the Council Bluffs Police Department announced that the man had been less than a mile away from home for over a decade, wedged in an 18-inch gap behind a freezer inside the store.

The store closed its doors in 2016 and had been vacant for years. A contractor recently went to the store to remove the shelves and freezers when he noticed a decaying body. Officials said the the clothes on the remains matched the clothes Murillo-Moncada wore when he disappeared.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation positively identified the remains after DNA matched to Murillo-Moncada’s parents.

Murillo-Moncada wasn’t scheduled to work on the day he vanished, but store management said it wasn’t unusual for employees to go to the store even if they weren’t on shift, according to Des Moines Register.

Further, former employees at the store told authorities that workers sometimes climbed on top of the coolers, as the area was used for storage.

Investigators do not believe foul play was involved. They theorized that Murillo-Moncada may have went to the store after he fled his home, where climbed onto a cooler and somehow slipped behind the units and became trapped.

Sgt. Brandon Danielson with the Council Bluffs Police Department said the noises from the freezer would have made it hard for others to hear cries for help.

There were no signs of trauma on the man’s body. Officials are closing the case and listing the death as accidental.

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[Feature Photo:  Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada/Council Bluffs PD]