A man looking for deer antlers in the Missouri woods came across something much more grim—the skeletal remains of a missing amateur MMA fighter. The fighter, David Koenig, was staying at a friend’s motel in Branson, Missouri, when he texted friends that he might be in trouble, NBC News reports. That was in February 2020. Because the 25-year-old had "gone off the grid before," his mother, Tracy Koenig, wasn’t worried enough to report him missing for a few weeks. Police in Branson and surrounding areas stretching into Arkansas followed tips and searched all over. When the man out hunting for antlers made his discovery, the mystery was finally solved. Branson police issued a statement on Dec. 27 saying that a forensic odonatologist had identified the remains as Koenig's.
"It was not the outcome we were hoping for," Eric Schmitt, an assistant chief with the Branson Police, told KY3. Branson police say they looked for Koenig constantly while he was missing. "It didn’t matter what investigation we were on, we were asking about Dave," he said. Still a mystery is what happened to Koenig. His mother said he’d struggled with mental health and addiction in the past. And police say there was no apparent trauma, and Koenig was found with his wallet and jewelry. "There did not appear to be any foul play," the statement read, per the Branson Tri-Lakes News. Koenig’s mother wrote in a Facebook group dedicated to the search that "Nobody killed Dave. Nobody!" and asked that group members stop passing around conspiracy theories and instead post a memory of her son. (Read more missing person stories.)