Bernard ‘Bernie’ Grucza: ‘Unraveled’ Toys R Us Executive Who Stabbed Manager Larry Wells To Death, Focus Of ID Documentary
Bernie Gruzca, the Toys R Us executive who murdered his employee after he was caught stealing three years ago, is the subject of the TV documentary series Unraveled. The show tells the shocking true stories of killers who murder innocent victims when their lives spin out of control. Authorities say that’s what happened the day that Bernard ‘Bernie’ Grucza killed Toys R Us manager Larry Wells in the back office. The Unraveled episode featuring the Toys R Us killing is called “Thrill Seeker.”
It was the summer of 2013, when a chaotic scene broke out at the Toys R Us store in Hamburg, New York. There, a well-respected regional manager of loss prevention brutally murdered Larry Wells, the store manager.
Police were called to the scene after coworkers discovered a badly injured Larry Wells inside the Toys R Us store. Among the sad employees in the parking lot outside the Toys R Us was Bernie Grucza. At the time, no one knew that he was the killer. Larry Wells’ pregnant wife found out about the stabbing from her husband’s coworkers. But by the time she arrived to the hospital, Larry was dead.
Police had few clues that pointed to the killer’s identity, and the case went ice cold. Four months later, detectives announced that they had Bernard Grucza in custody. His arrest rocked the Toys R Us community. Larry Wells’ distraught widow couldn’t understand how her husband, who worked so hard for his family, could end up dead just for showing up to work. Even more shocking was that Larry Wells had been killed by the man who hired him.
Video surveillance captured Bernie Grucza inside of the store holding a knife. Law enforcement officials say that Grucza arrived at the Toys R Us store that day to steal. Records indicate that Bernie Grucza had financial problems stemming from his lavish lifestyle, which included expensive cars, a pool, and a beautiful home in Elma. After his finances had taken a dive, the man who had once enjoyed the prestige that being a regional manager provided, had to file bankruptcy. Then, Bernie Grucza devised a plan to steal from Toys R Us and was willing to kill anyone in his path that he might encounter.
It was a terrible ending for a man who people say loved his wife and child. Now, Larry Wells’ children will grow up without a father, as their mother copes with such a tremendous loss. Attorneys for Bernard Grucza said that their client, whose wife was suffering from breast cancer, was desperate for money and had no intentions of killing anyone that day, according to WIVB-4.
“At the time that my client committed this offense, he was trying to get money to support his family. He did not anticipate encountering Larry Wells. The death was the result of an unfortunate encounter in an enclosed space. He knew Larry Wells. Larry Wells was a friend of his. He had no desire to see Larry Wells harmed.”
— WGRZ (@WGRZ) October 18, 2013
While attorneys for Grucza describe a family man who desperately needed money to provide for his family, others say that Grucza abused and cheated on his wife and had shown episodes of violent behavior prior to the tragedy, according to Buffalo News.
“He pushed and shoved her, then ran upstairs to the master bedroom in their sprawling, hillside Elma home. The next thing Heather R. Grucza heard was a gunshot from the bedroom. She rushed upstairs and found him face down on the floor. When she rolled him over, he spoke, ‘I wanted to see if you still loved me.'”
In the end, Bernie Grucza finally admitted that he was the killer and pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Larry Wells. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Unraveled airs this Thursday, September 8, at 9 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.
[Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]