The mystery of what happened to an Iowa man a decade ago has finally, and tragically, been solved.
Larry Ely Murillo-Moncada’s body was discovered at a local supermarket wedged behind a refrigerator in January, ten years after he went missing and three years after the store closed.
On Monday, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, along with the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office and Council Bluffs Police Department, announced that the body found earlier this year at the old No Frills Supermarket was identified as Murillo-Moncada, Sgt. Brandon Danielson with the CBPD confirms to PEOPLE.
Sgt. Danielson says that Murillo-Moncada, who was 25 years old at the time of his disappearance, was employed at the Council Bluffs supermarket before he went missing.
Murillo-Moncada was first reported missing by his parents on Nov. 28, 2009, after they said he became upset and ran out of their home.
At the time, his parents claimed their son was acting irrationally, perhaps due to medication he was taking, CNN reports.
Speaking to the Des Moines Register, Sgt. Danielson recalled how weather conditions were extremely poor that day and Murillo-Moncada fled his home without anything in his possession.
“It was a snowstorm at the time. He left with no shoes, no socks, no keys, no car,” he said, adding that Murillo-Moncada was not scheduled to work at the time he arrived at the supermarket.
Management at No Frills told the outlet that employees often entered and exited the store, despite not being scheduled for a shift.
In mid-January of this year, as workers with a contracting firm were removing shelves and coolers in the empty building, the body was found, Sgt. Danielson tells PEOPLE.
At the time, the building had been closed for three years so it was incredibly difficult to determine any details about the corpse, as it had been there for so long, Sgt. Danielson explains.
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It wasn’t until Monday, however, that the body was identified by the state lab through DNA from Murillo-Moncada’s biological parents. His clothes also matched what he was said to be wearing at the time of his disappearance, Sgt. Danielson says.
An autopsy performed on Murillo-Moncada’s body indicated no signs of trauma and the criminal investigations department is now considering the case to be an accidental death.
With this information in mind, investigators have been able to piece together what they believe happened to Murillo-Moncada on that snowy January night in 2009.
After leaving his home, Sgt. Danielson says authorities believe the man went to the No Frills supermarket and climbed on top of the coolers, where he accidentally fell into an 18-inch gap between the cooler and the wall and became trapped.
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The situation seemed plausible, as former employees told authorities that it was common for workers to be in the storage space on top of the coolers, according to the Register.
Council Bluffs Police Capt. Todd Weddum also told CNN that the employees would go there to hide when they wanted to take an “unofficial break.”
The major gap and hidden location were likely why Murillo-Moncada was never found, police said.
“That’s about a 12-foot fall,” Sgt. Danielson told the Register. “The noise of the freezer units also could have made it difficult to hear any cries for help.”
“It’s so loud, there’s probably no way anyone heard him,” he added.