‘I apologize’: YPD Chief on KAPP-KVEW’s push for video evidence in Lucian case

YAKIMA, Wash. — Lucian Munguia has been missing since Sept. 10, when he vanished from Sarg Hubbard Park without a trace.

Early on in the investigation, on Sept. 13, Yakima Police Chief Matt Murray told KAPP-KVEW’s Emily Goodell investigators had found video of the boy leaving on his own.

“What I can tell you is there is video — I’m not gonna talk about where it came from or where it was  — that shows Lucian leaving the park in a southeast direction by himself. I can tell you that it is true,” Murray told KAPP-KVEW on Sept. 13.

But our team learned recently from sources close to the investigation that the video didn’t exist. We requested a conversation with Yakima police about that evidence and filed a public records request to try to clear up the confusion.

However, Thursday, shortly after receiving an email notifying us our request had been denied, Murray posted a video statement on social media, saying they had determined there was no video evidence of Lucian leaving the park by himself that day.

KAPP-KVEW’s Emily Goodell contacted YPD again after the chief’s statement on social media and talked with Murray exclusively about what happened. We’ve also now learned how the confusion surrounding the video has been affecting Lucian’s family.

“Every day, I pray today’s the day. Today’s the day we’re gonna find him.”

Every year for Halloween, now-5-year-old Lucian Munguia picks out a new costume for his favorite holiday, plays with pumpkins and practices his trick-or-treating at home.

“He rings the doorbell or knocks on the door and says trick or treat and just has like the biggest smile on his face,” Lucian’s mom Sandra Munguia said. “I sit there and wonder: what would he have picked out to be this year?”

This year, instead of being able to take Lucian trick-or-treating, she’ll be with the rest of her family, taking missing child flyers to trunk-or-treat celebrations, hoping to spread the message that her little boy is still missing.

“Every day, I pray today’s the day. Today’s the day we’re gonna find him,” Munguia said. “I believe that until the end of the night and it’s time to start all over again.”

It’s been nearly 50 days since little Lucian went missing during a trip with his dad and siblings to Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Murray told KAPP-KVEW’s Emily Goodell on Thursday night. “I know it happens. It’s extremely rare. He just — it’s like he just disappeared. He vanished.”

Despite hundreds of searchers, drones, tracking dogs, divers, a helicopter, there’s been no sign of Lucian. Murray said at the time, they were receiving frequent tips about where he may be.

“I was specifically told — somebody said hey, there’s a video with Lucian walking southeast from the park,” Murray said.

However, Murray said once detectives started going back through all the video, they had difficulty finding that video.

“I started hearing, hey, we haven’t seen a video with Lucian in it and that was weeks after the initial case,” Murray said. “So at that point, again, I said okay, get through all video. We have to be absolutely certain.”

KAPP-KVEW’s push for video evidence in Lucian Munguia case

The video became a hot topic, with people showing up at the Yakima Police Department calling for the video for Lucian to be released. However, despite still not having found a video showing Lucian on the day he went missing, police did not correct the information.

When publishing new stories about the case, we checked in with YPD to make sure the previous information we’d received was correct and we were told there were no updates.

“I think what’s happened and that happened even in the course of this information is there’s miscommunication. Nobody’s intentionally hiding any information, nobody’s trying to verify something’s true that’s not true. That just isn’t the case. What we’ve been saying all along, if you look at our press releases, is that we will provide information when we have new information. That’s the intent of our message. If we blew it, I apologize. That’s certainly not our intent. We’re focused on trying to find Lucian and and resolve the case,” Murray said.

Recently, two sources close to the investigation — including one in law enforcement — told us the video of Lucian didn’t exist and that it was a mistake that never got corrected publicly.

In an effort to get answers, we filed a public records request on Oct. 20, requesting a copy of or access to any video showing Lucian Munguia at or near Sarg Hubbard Park on the day of his disappearance.

At 11:35 a.m. on Thursday, we received an email from City of Yakima Public Records saying, “Emily, I’m sorry, but since this is still an active case, no records are releasable at this time.” They included the contact number for a detective we could reach out to for more information.

We called multiple sources within the police department Thursday afternoon, including that detective and the police chief, in an attempt to get answers and received no response.

Just a few hours after those calls were made, Murray shared his video statement on Facebook and we received a call from the police department directing us to their Facebook page.

After another request for an interview made during that phone call, KAPP-KVEW’s Emily Goodell received a phone call from Murray, who agreed to a phone interview to discuss what happened and what’s happening with the case moving forward.

When asked about the public records request, Murray said “It’s consistent with all investigations. We don’t release information on an investigation that’s ongoing. That’s standard throughout law enforcement in all of America.”

Family grateful for clarification on video evidence

Munguia said the correction is one her family has hoped for, for a long time. With the attacks on social media and threats the family’s faced during the investigation, she said the lack of clarity surrounding the video didn’t help.

“That was a big thing to the community, that we were saying there is no video but the chief of police said that there was a video at the beginning of all this,” Munguia said. “And for him to finally clear it up, that there is no video, it’s just kind of helped bring peace, I guess, to some of the community.”

Munguia said despite the police chief reiterating that they still do not suspect foul play, she believes it’s unlikely that information will stop people from attacking them on social media. However, she said she’s still grateful that the police updated the public.

“There’s a lot about this folks don’t know. There’s a lot of things I can’t share. Whether there’s video of Lucian walking in a park or not really did not change any of what it is we’re working with. And it doesn’t change any the nature of the facts that we’ve been repeating: That there’s no indication of foul play. We have no suspects in this case. We also have no evidence of what happened to Lucian. All of those things are still true,” Murray said.

Family, police push to put focus on finding Lucian moving forward

Now that the question about whether there’s video evidence of Lucian walking away from the park has been definitively answered, we asked Murray what he wanted the community to take away from this situation and from the phone interview with us.

“That we are all doing the best we can. That we’re trying to give as much information as possible. That errors may occur along the way. That we will tell you when we can what we can. And that the focus remains on trying to find what happened to Lucian or where he is,” Murray said.

Munguia said what she wants now is for the public not to give up hope and for the community to keep the focus on finding her son.

“Don’t stop posting him on your media pages: Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, keep him out there,” Munguia said. “We want him found. We want people to not forget about him and him turn into a backstory because he’s never going to be our backstory.”

The family is offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to Lucian’s safe return. If you see something, say something immediately and call 911 or contact the Yakima Police Department at 509-575-6200 or at ypd@yakimawa.gov.

COVERAGE OF THE LUCIAN MUNGUIA CASE: