Woodsman Hunting for Deer Antlers Solves MMA Fighter’s Mystery Disappearance

via Facebook/Mystery of the Missing Fighter

An outdoorsman walking through the woods in the Missouri Ozarks last week stumbled upon a shocking find: what appeared to be a skeletal figure. The man had been searching the wooded area for deer antlers but instead solved a two-year mystery that had been haunting the town of Branson.

On Monday, a forensic pathologist confirmed the remains were those of David Koenig, a mixed martial arts fighter who vanished in early 2020.

Koenig was an amateur fighter whose family lived in the Ozark community. Relatives became worried about him after he disappeared on Feb. 8, 2020, and reported him missing that March.

As reported by Ozarks First, his mother, Tracy Koenig, organized searches, spoke with media, and moderated the 14,000-member Facebook group Mystery of the Missing Fighter! in the continued efforts to find her son.

<div class="inline-image__credit">via Facebook</div>

At the time of his disappearance, she told the Springfield News-Leader that he had been living at a motel, the Peach Tree Inn, which was near a highway attraction strip. He had sent text messages on the night he vanished asking for help, the Branson Tri-Lakes News.

Relatives told the newspaper that Koenig was known to go “off the grid” for long periods, but as his disappearance stretched into weeks, then months, they feared the worst.

“[T]he longer time passes, the window of hope gets smaller,” Tracy Koenig posted in October after he’d been missing for 20 months. “20 months of our lives on standstill… 20 months without his crazy laughter and the sound of his voice… and 20 long months of nightmares, tears and frustration. We need answers but mostly we just need David home with us.”

In a statement released Monday, the Branson Police Department said that after Koenig was reported missing, officials organized a multi-state search across Missouri and Arkansas using volunteer search parties, excavations, and cadaver dogs.

Koenig was finally found along Fall Creek Road, a wooded area in Branson that’s cut through by a creek. Police said that though they had yet to determine a cause of death, it did not seem that Koenig had died by any trauma or foul play. The statement added that investigators conducted a thorough search of the area and found more of Koenig’s remains and a few of his personal items.

“He was not shot, stabbed, no broken bones of any sort,” Tracy Koenig wrote to the Facebook group on Monday. “He wasn’t robbed, as his tattered wallet was still intact as well as the two silver necklaces he always wor[e] amongst some other things. All the rumors were FALSE! Nobody killed Dave. Nobody! He left the Peachtree on foot and never made it home. Why he was in distress, and why he walked through the deep woods… we most likely will never know.”

<div class="inline-image__credit">via Facebook</div>

She described her son to Ozarks First as “an incredible person… Literally larger than life. Not just physically, but in everything about him. He was a big, beautiful, gentle giant with a heart of gold.”

On Facebook, she thanked members of the Mystery of the Missing Fighter! group for “going above and beyond and helping us to physically search for Dave, help pay for billboards and private investigators, sharing my posts, calling in tips, handing out flyers all over the country.”

Assistant Chief Eric Schmitt of the Branson Police said, per KY3, that it was not the outcome anyone was hoping for.

“To say that this case didn’t affect anybody in the agency would be a complete misstatement,” he said. “It didn’t matter what investigation we were on we were asking about Dave.”

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