Remains Of Missing Amateur MMA Fighter David Koenig Found By Man Searching For Deer Antlers In Missouri Woods

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A nearly two-year search for an amateur mixed martial arts fighter has ended in Branson, Missouri.

According to local police, they have identified the remains of David Koenig, an amateur mixed martial arts fighter missing for 22 months.

A man looking for deer antlers in the woods discovered the skeletal remains last week, the Branson Police Department announced.

In addition, local investigators from the police and coroner’s office found some of Koenig’s personal belongings while combing the area. A forensic dentist also confirmed the remains as those of Koenig from his dental records.

Koenig was 25 when he went missing in February 2020.

“Our department and the amazing group of volunteers never stopped in our efforts to find Mr. Koenig,” said Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews in a statement.

“While this is not the ending we hoped for, we offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Koenig.”

Additionally, the forensic pathologist found no trauma during an examination and ultimately determined that “the death did not appear to be the result of foul play,” according to a police statement.

However, Koenig’s mother, Tracey Koenig, gave further insight into her thoughts behind her son’s disappearance.

“Dave [Koening] has struggled with addiction for many years on and off,” she said in a statement. “We are just heartbroken. And although Dave’s been missing/gone for 22 months, it doesn’t make it any easier. What we are feeling now is just indescribable pain.”

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Although Koenig’s mother feared someone had killed him, she was still distraught to learn that he had died alone. Up until the announcement, Koenig’s mother was an admin of a Facebook group with over 10,000 members who organized searches and shared information to aid the case.

“He was that guy you meet once and never, ever forget,” she wrote on the page. “He was an incredible person with so much left to give, and I’m so incredibly proud to call him my son.”

However, Koenig’s manner of death is undetermined, and the cause is unknown.

According to reports, Branson police worked with other law enforcement regions to conduct a broad search of properties in Taney and Stone counties in Missouri in search of Koenig.

They even ventured across state lines to Boone County, Arkansas, according to the police statement. In addition, two searches included excavations of disturbed earth and areas deemed suspicious.

Trained by his father, Rick, who runs a martial arts gym in Branson, Missouri, David aspired to become a professional MMA fighter. According to his dad, after injuring his feet in the cage, he lost his first fight but won his next five contests.

“I mean, since he was a baby, he grew up on the mats,” he said to the media. “He was on the right path to do great things,” Rick Koenig added that his son “was a phenomenal man.”

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According to reports, others described Koenig’s big heart.

“Training with him was always a pleasure,” JT Tilley, head coach at Branson Fight Club, said to reporters. “He cared about the group and was always there to listen and support his teammates. Truly a gentle giant.”


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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.