By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“Whoever placed her there is probably someone she knows,” says homicide detective Joe Preciado. “They could have dropped her body from the four-foot drop. Someone laid her down and then climbed down on the loading dock and placed her on the ground.”
At first blush, detectives weren’t even sure that her death was a homicide at all and thought it could possibly be a nitrous-oxide overdose. She wasn’t shot or stabbed. Ligature markings around her neck, though, raised the possibility that she’d been strangled or smothered. The coroner’s office first ruled the cause of death as inconclusive — pending toxicology results. Months later, when no drugs were found in her system, coroner officials ruled her death a homicide.
“I just want to know who did this and why,” says Mejia.
Because Munoz was dumped in a site where flier parties have been held in the past, detectives believe the answer to what happened to her will have to come from within the party scene.
“A person who may have done this and wasn’t connected to the underground party world wouldn’t have come to this location to dispose of the body,” says Preciado. “That is the connection to rave or underground parties.”
Her party-crew friends deny the flier-party scene had anything to do with her death.
“She was someone who was ours,” says a crew organizer who didn’t want to be identified. “There wasn’t a party that day. If there was a party that day, we didn’t know about it. Everyone is tripping out. We even went as far as to ask the gang [in the area] what happened and they didn’t know.”
Her friends in the Vicious Ladies claim Munoz began to pull away from the party scene and started to hang around with another crowd about a month before her death. She had a crush on a boy. She was spending most of her time with members of another crew.
“Emmery was doing her own kind of thing at the time,” says the crew organizer. “If she had kicked it with us more often, she would have been safe with us. She had different friends we didn’t really know and frankly we didn’t really like.”
Last September, detectives held a press conference in the warehouse district and offered a reward for information that could help solve Emmery’s case.
“These party crews have a kind of gang mentality,” says Preciado. “That is why we offered a $50,000 reward. So someone would step forward and tell us what they know.”
As she sits on the edge of her bed, Cherry picks up a shoe box filled with old fliers of past parties. She pulls out a flier with the words “Hello Pussy” written in pink. On the front of the flier is a picture of Hello Kitty. On the back are photos of Munoz and the words “Forever in Our Hearts.” The underground party, which was held last March, was in honor of the teen. The flier promised strawberry-flavored happy balloons. The $700 profit the crew made that night was given to Munoz’s family to help pay for funeral expenses.
Cherry has taken the past year in stride. Two of her more popular crew members, Paris and Peaches, quit the Vicious Ladies. Paris left because she found a boyfriend. Peaches dropped out because he wants to get a part-time job. Besides her friends Munoz and Connine, Cherry also lost her godfather and great grandfather. Cherry gets visibly sad when she talks about Munoz’s death. Munoz was in the next room when Cherry lost her virginity. The teens had a falling out, but they began to speak again at church on Sundays. They had things in common.
“Emmery never saw her dad,” says Cherry. “He was always too busy. I never see my dad either. My dad went back to Mexico.”
The pretty teen is at a loss over what happened to her friend, and she says the Vicious Ladies are just as clueless as everyone else about Munoz’s death.
“I grew up with her,” she says. “She was my best friend.”