Henry Diaz, a popular South Miami-Dade County grocer who went missing and was found dead in the Everglades over a decade ago, is the subject of the first episode of Investigation Discovery’s third season premiere of The Perfect Murder. The TV crime series debuted in 2014 and focuses on crime cases that almost went unsolved.
Wednesday night’s episode, titled “The Body in the Swamp,” follows detectives as they try to track down the whereabouts of a beloved Miami grocery store owner who disappears just before leaving on a family vacation. After the businessman’s body is found in an alligator-infested swamp in the Florida Everglades, police begin tracking down the killers who seem to be one step ahead.
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Body Found In The Everglades: South Miami-Dade County, Florida 2004
In November 2004, a boater reported finding a body floating in a canal near Alligator Alley in the Everglades of Florida. The person who reported the finding to police was on the fishing pier close to Weston when the body was spotted.
When police arrived on the scene, they found a badly decomposed body clothed in black pants, black shoes, and a white T-shirt. The condition of the body indicated that it had been attacked by alligators. Detectives were able to connect the deceased person in the swamp to their missing person case that had been called in by the victim’s wife over a week earlier.
The victim was identified through dental records as 35-year-old businessman Henry Diaz, the co-owner of Diaz Groceries, aka Diaz Supermarkets. Investigators say his vehicle was found abandoned in a Hialeah apartment complex the day after he went missing.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, an autopsy report concluded that the man’s death was the result of a gunshot wound to the body and that the shooting victim had been in the swamp for up to three days. Police issued a press release about the case, but there were no suspects and no clues.
Henry Diaz Was Friendly
According to the Miami Herald, people in the neighborhood say that Henry Diaz was known as a polite and kind businessman who knew everyone by name and greeted them with a friendly disposition.
The Naranja store that he owned was a part of Diaz Groceries, a family-owned chain that has been in operation since 1982. The store offered all kinds of Latin dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including tacos and other snacks.
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However, Dias Groceries, which later expanded to a supermarket chain, was involved in two more legal matters in addition to Henry Diaz’ death.
- In 2007, a robber wearing a ski mask was shot dead after he tried to hold up a store clerk. He was killed by the owner after he realized a crime was taking place at the front of the store. The incident happened at Diaz Groceries at the corner of Southwest 268th Street and 135th Avenue.
- In 2013, co-owners of Diaz Groceries made the news again when they were arrested in a $35 million fraud case that was a part of “Operation Dirty Money,” according to Local-10 ABC.
“A Workers’ Compensation Fraud Task Force investigation revealed that a total of $35 million in fraudulent transactions occurred at Diaz Supermarkets, a licensed money service business, owned and operated by Diaz since 2006. Police seized $640,000 in forfeiture funds and three vehicles at four Diaz Supermarkets locations and one administrative office. The case is part of a larger investigation into movement of drug money from Mexico to the U.S.”
Members of he community were left in shock at the allegations against John Diaz and Mercedes Avila-Diaz.
— D.Shim (@dshimbeatz) April 16, 2013
@killaLaura they were doing money laundry & other illegal stuff. They own 4 Diaz supermarkets, google it on news & it'll show you.It's crazy
— miriam. (@miriyummx3) April 16, 2013
The Florida Everglades–A Scary Place
Over the years, the Florida Everglades has been one of the top places to dump bodies, according to Creepy Basement. Most of the killings were stimulated by the drug war. Other cases involved domestic disputes between partners.
“The endless swamp lands of Florida are the perfect places for murderers to hide bodies. After all, the area already smells like rotting flesh! Serial killers Ottis Elwood Toole (the Jacksonville Cannibal) and Henry Lee Lucas both disposed of bodies here.”
Just a Few Of Many Bodies Found In The Everglades
- 1999 — The body of 22-year-old Jeannette Anne Smith was found in a cardboard box near Alligator Alley. Smith was an exotic dancer from Pembroke Pines who had been strangled because she was suspected of being a snitch.
- 2000 — Kelly Hyde, a 22-year-old woman who had been reported missing was found in the Florida Everglades. The identification of her body was made by a gold bracelet that her mother had given her.
- 2010 — The body of 40-year-old Marisol Ramon was found in the Everglades. Police arrested her boyfriend Roque Torres, 60, who had escaped to Nicaragua.
- 2013 — The body of missing Miami-Dade teenager Jesus Trejo, 18, was also found in the Everglades after his family reported him missing.
To find out how the case of Henry Diaz ended, watch The Perfect Murder this Wednesday, June 1 at 10/9 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery (ID).
[Photo by AP Images]