Body found behind cooler at Iowa supermarket was employee who went missing 10 years ago


DES MOINES, Iowa – A man whose dead body was found at a former Council Bluffs supermarket in January has been identified as an employee who went missing 10 years ago. 

Authorities on Monday said they have identified the man as Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada, of Council Bluffs, who was 25 years old in November 2009 when he was reported missing. 

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation identified him using DNA collected from Murillo-Moncada’s biological parents. An autopsy showed no signs of trauma to Murillo-Moncada, and the death has been ruled accidental. 

The decomposing body was originally discovered the morning of Jan. 24 as contractors were removing the former No Frills Supermarket in Council Bluffs. Police at the time said the body appeared to have been there for years. 

The grocery store has been closed for about three years, said Sgt. Brandon Danielson with the Council Bluffs Police Department. 

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Police say that Murillo-Moncada’s parents reported him to be missing Nov. 28, 2009, when he became upset and ran out of their home. He was 25 years old at the time and was employed at No Frills Supermarket at the time of his disappearance. 

“It was a snowstorm at the time,” Danielson said. “He left with no shoes, no socks, no keys, no car.” 

Danielson said Murillo-Moncada was not scheduled to work at the time he would have entered the supermarket, and management said it was not uncommon for employees to enter and exit the store when they weren’t on their shifts. 

Police said former employees at No Frills Supermarket said it was common for workers to be in the space on top of the coolers, which was used for storage. Investigators believe Murillo-Moncada went into the store after leaving his home and climbed on top of the coolers, where he fell into a gap measuring about 18 inches between the back of the cooler and the wall and became trapped. 

That’s about a 12-foot fall, Danielson said. The noise of the freezer units also could have made it difficult to hear any cries for help, he said. 

“It’s so loud, there’s probably no way anyone heard him,” he said. 

Contractors found Murillo-Moncada while tearing apart the freezer units, he said. Danielson, who worked the missing person case nearly a decade ago, said Murillo-Moncada was the first person who came into his mind when the body was found in the wall.  

Follow Ian Richardson on Twitter at @DMRIanR.

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