Vanished in Washington. Where is Lucian Munguia?
For most people across the country, Sept. 10, 2022, was much like any other Saturday. In the town of Yakima, Washington, it was warm; an average temperature of 80 degrees mixed with sunny weather created what seemed to be the perfect day for a trip to the park.
For a local family, that’s exactly what they decided to do. It was on Sept. 10 that Juan Munguia took his three children, 4-year-old Lucian and his two siblings, to play at local Sarg Hubbard Park in the Yakima area. Moments after they arrived, Juan realized that he needed to change his youngest child’s diaper, so he quickly went back to the car, which was just a short step away from the play area. While he did so, Lucian and his 6-year-old brother played on the toys close by.
Juan says after looking down for just a moment to quickly change his daughter’s diaper in the trunk of the car, he walked the short distance back to where the boys had been playing and he didn’t see Lucian anywhere.
“It only took me one minute to change her,” Juan said. “And in that one minute, Lucian was gone.”
After quickly searching for him around the park area to no avail, Juan said he began to panic and called the police. Although police searched the park and surrounding areas, it seemed Lucian had disappeared without a trace.
In the days following his disappearance, police say that they equipped dozens of police officers to search for Lucian. Given that the park was also in the vicinity of a pond, lake and a nearby river, they also brought in dive teams, search and rescue units, and police dogs.
However, despite their searching, there was still no sign of Lucian.
Sandra and Juan Munguia describe their now 5-year-old son as energetic, outgoing, loving and smart. Lucian’s mom, Sandra, told the National Center that Lucian loved to soak up information and once he found something he liked, he was all in.
“When Lucian loved something, he loved it with his whole entire heart.”
One of Lucian’s passions was found in the ocean, a love for sea life and anything involving water. According to his parents, Lucian can name 50-100 different kinds of sea animals. His mother, Sandra, laughed when telling NCMEC that he’ll quickly correct a movie or tv show when it doesn’t accurately depict the type of animal.
“To him, it’s not Nemo; it’s a clownfish. It’s not Dory; it’s a blue tang,” Sandra said.
Just two weeks before he went missing, Lucian had started going to a learning program to help him with his communication, social and learning skills. Because he is on the autism spectrum, Lucian is somewhat nonverbal. However, his parents say that while he isn’t able to have a full conversation with someone, he can speak and communicate about the things he cares about.
Not only did Lucian love the program; he loved to learn. Although he was only able to attend for two short weeks, his parents say they could already see the impact of what he was learning.
“He was already using the skills they were teaching in his everyday life,” his dad said. “He was already becoming more comfortable with the world around him.”
Today marks two months since Sandra and Juan were able to hold their long-haired, brown-eyed little boy, passing his 5th birthday in October and the Halloween holiday. For the two of them, the days since Lucian disappeared have been long, filled with countless hours of searching, praying and waiting.
For Juan, he begins his search every morning, walking around the park, wading through the bodies of water and talking with locals to see if they have any information on his son. Both he and Sandra have been cleared by the police and investigators say that there is no evidence of foul play in Lucian’s disappearance.
However, his family is worried that since Lucian hasn’t been found despite the numerous searches around the park and in surrounding bodies of water, that maybe someone else played a role in his disappearance and fear that he may have been abducted from the park on Sept. 10.
In the weeks since he was reported missing, the Munguia family has also been joined by their local community, who helped assist in the search, attended prayer vigils, and spread the word to keep Lucian’s story in the public eye by posting on social media or handing out flyers.
“We have had a lot of support from our family and the community,” Juan said. “We are very grateful for that.”
Investigators say they are still looking for any information that could assist in finding Lucian or answer questions about his disappearance. They urge the public to call with tips or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For the Munguias, they say that they’ll continue to search and until Lucian is with them again, they’ll always hold out hope.
“We aren’t going to give up. We aren’t going to stop, not until we find him.”
If you have any information on the disappearance of Lucian Munguia, please call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or the Yakima Police Department at 1-509-575-6200.
View Lucian’s missing poster here: https://www.missingkids.org/poster/NCMC/1460433
On Friday Nov. 4, 2022, Lucian was featured on “On Patrol Live” as the week’s missing child case. Watch his segment below starting at 02:12.
For more information on missing children and autism, visit our website here: https://www.missingkids.org/theissues/autism