(This story originally published at the Springfield News-Leader, part of the USA TODAY Network.)
BRANSON, Mo. – A man looking for deer antlers in Missouri found the remains of David Koenig, an amateur mixed martial arts fighter who was last seen on Feb. 8, 2020.
The found human remains were discovered on Dec. 22 in a wooded area in Branson, and a forensic odonatologist was able to confirm the human remains belong to Koenig, according to the Branson Police Department. A search recovered most of Koenig’s remains and other personal articles.
“The examination of the remains conducted by a forensic pathologist determined that there was no trauma and that the death did not appear to be the result of foul play,” the police department stated in a news release.
In September, Koenig’s mother, Tracy, spoke about her missing son. He was reportedly staying at a budget motel, Peach Tree Inn, a few blocks off Branson’s Highway 76 attraction strip. It’s not clear exactly where he went next. Koenig was reported as missing in March 2020, according to multiple published reports.
Tracy Koenig confirmed the news Monday that her son’s remains had been found.
“He was not shot, stabbed, no broken bones of any sort,” Tracy Koenig wrote on social media. “He wasn’t robbed, as his tattered wallet was still in tact, as well as the two silver necklaces he always (wore) amongst some other things.”
Any circulating rumors about possible ways her son might have been killed are false, Koenig said.
“Nobody killed Dave. Nobody!” Tracy Koenig wrote. “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. But he is GONE. So PLEASE…..NO MORE RUMORS…..NO CONSPIRACY THEORIES…..NO BLAMING BRANSON PD.”
Tracy Koenig thanked everyone for their efforts in searching for her son.
“Please do not think we are ungrateful in any way,” she wrote. “(T)hank you all soooo much for being not only a huge support, but 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. Dave would feel so honored and loved!”
Plans for a memorial service are underway, but no date has been released. Tracy Koenig asked that people share memories, light a candle or shine blue lights in her son’s honor.
“Big Dave is finally at peace,” she wrote
Since Koenig was reported missing, Branson police partnered with other law enforcement agencies to search for him in counties like Taney and Stone, even in Boone County, Arkansas. Volunteer groups and cadaver dog groups have also assisted in the search.
“Our department and the amazing group of volunteers never stopped in our efforts to find Mr. Koenig,” said Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews. “While this is not the ending we hoped for, we offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Koenig.