Police identify skeletal remains found in Branson, Mo. as missing MMA fighter

Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 12:25 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 27, 2021 at 4:22 PM CST
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Police identified skeletal remains found in Branson on December 22 as those of David Koenig.

The family reported Koenig, a former mixed martial arts fighter, missing in March of 2020. A forensic odontologist confirmed the identity.

“It was not the outcome we were hoping for,” said Assistant Chief Eric Schmitt with Branson Police.

He says his staff worked tirelessly to help find David Koenig.

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

A man searching for deer antlers located the remains in the 3700 block of Fall Creek Road. Investigators from the Branson Police Department and the Taney County Coroner’s Office conducted a search of the area, recovering most of the remains and several 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.

Since Mr. Koenig was reported missing, the Branson Police Department continuously partnered with several area law enforcement agencies in their search for him. This led to multiple searches of properties in Taney and Stone Counties in Missouri, and Boone County, Arkansas. Two of these searches included excavations of suspicious areas of disturbed earth. Additionally, several volunteer groups including the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and cadaver dog groups have organized searches of large areas in the area for Mr. Koenig.

“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.”

Schmitt says Koenig’s family played a key role in their investigation.

“They had an immense amount of patience with us, very supportive and it helped continue to funnel leads to us,” explained Schmitt.

Detectives are still investigating Koenig’s exact cause of death. They are not ruling out the possibility of narcotics being involved.

Schmitt urges anyone struggling with their mental health or addiction to seek help.

“Getting somebody in trouble to me seems like a small price to pay if it helps save a life down the line. We’re not ready to give up that battle. Every life matters to us,” he said.

He says he now hopes the Koenig family will get the closure they need.

“Remember the good times. There is a very good person that we learned about. We learned about all the neat things that Dave was able to do with both his father and his mother. That’s what, in my opinion, people need to dwell on,” said Schmitt.

The Koenig family says they appreciate all of the love and support from the community and even people across the country in their efforts to find their son.

They’re asking for their privacy right now as they try to heal as a family.

The Branson Police Department says it is grateful for the continued support from the family, volunteers, and regional partners, who all teamed to dedicate thousands of hours to search for David Koenig. Among the agencies who participated in the investigation, were the following:

• Branson Police Department

• Taney County Sheriff’s Office

• Missouri State Highway Patrol

• Stone County Sheriff’s Office

• Taney County Coroner’s Office

• Hollister Police Department

• Boone County (AR) Sheriff’s Office

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