See No Evil on ID: How did Toys "R" Us manager Larry Wells die?

Larry Wells
Larry Wells was stabbed to death while working at Hamburg's Toys "R" Us store (Image via Bonnie's Blog of Crime, IMDb)

Beloved Toys "R" Us manager Larry Wells was stabbed to death in the early morning hours of June 29, 2013. He was found on the floor in a pool of blood by one of his co-workers at the Hamburg store in Erie County, New York. DNA evidence and a University of Florida Gators cap, covered in blood, were found at the crime scene. Bits of security footage suggested that a man in disguise had entered the store and attacked Wells.

The store's loss prevention expert Bernard Grucza was linked to the crime after his DNA matched the sample from the scene. He had been assisting with the investigation throughout and had avoided every chance to submit his own DNA.

Grucza admitted that he was stealing merchandise from the store and selling it online. Prosecutors believed he was doing the same that morning at the store when Wells caught him which led to Grucza killing Wells.

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ID's See No Evil revisits Larry Wells' fatal stabbing in an episode titled Toying With Us, which aired this Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

The synopsis states:

"In 2013, someone murders 35-year-old assistant manager Larry Wells in his office at Toys R Us; a disguised knife-wielding man appears on camera stalking the store; police must now follow the trail of surveillance footage to track down the killer."

Hamburg's Toys "R" Us store witnessed the stabbing death of Larry Wells in the early hours of June 2013

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In the early morning hours of June 29, 2013, between 1 and 5 am, Larry Wells was inside his office at Hamburg's Toys "R" Us store in Erie County. At the same time, the company's employees were unloading a truck at the store.

However, they suddenly heard an alarm go off and rushed to check up on Wells when he failed to respond to any of their radio calls. When they reached his office, one of the employees found Larry stabbed to death and lying in a pool of blood.

Upon arriving at the crime scene, detectives found blood in large quantities along with DNA evidence and the University of Florida Gators cap. The cap was also covered in blood.

They were able to retrieve some DVR footage with the help of the store's loss prevention expert, Bernand Grucza as the unit had been unplugged at the time of the incident.

The footage showed them that a man in disguise was spotted entering the establishment shortly before 4:30 am and seemed to have a good understanding of the store's layout. The suspect was seen entering Larry Wells' office minutes later. About six to seven minutes later, the footage was cut.

Meanwhile, detectives swabbed DNA samples from dozens of employees to find a potential match, but to no avail.


A robbery, debt, and a secret were the motives behind Larry Wells' murder

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The investigation into Larry Wells' stabbing death continued for months until the realization struck that they missed collecting a sample from Bernard Grucza. He had been assisting in the investigation throughout, but somehow evaded every chance to get his DNA swabbed.

A sample of Grucza's DNA was collected on August 14, 2013, which was a confirmed match. He was arrested from his girlfriend's Village of Allegany home in October on criminal possession of a weapon and harassment charges. The charges were made against him after authorities learned that he had fired a weapon at his wife Heather earlier in June.

While executing a search of Grucza's house, detectives found stocks of electronics and toys, which he admitted to having stolen from the Toys "R" Us store where he worked.

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The murder suspect claimed that he used his position in loss prevention to steal merch worth more than $200,000. He "was uniquely well suited to rip off the company that employed him" and sell the items online on eBay.

Bernard Grucza was knee-deep in debt of $1.2 million, a $450,000 home, and a late-model Cadillac Escalade. Prosecutors alleged that on the tragic morning when Larry Wells was stabbed, he was at the store to steal. However, they believe that he was caught by the latter and stabbed him to death to keep his act hush-hush.

Grucza pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was handed 25 years along with five years in prison in July 2014.


Larry Wells' murder case will be aired on ID's See No Evil on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.

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Edited by Madhur Dave