Missouri man finds remains of longtime missing MMA fighter while hunting for deer antlers

David Koenig was reported missing roughly 21 months ago

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A man scavenging for deer antlers in the woods of southern Missouri stumbled upon human remains that have been identified as being of a mixed martial arts fighter missing for nearly two years, authorities and reports confirmed.

Police were called to the woods near Fall Creek Road in Branson on Dec. 22 for a report of the discovery of suspected human remains, officials said Monday. After confirming the remains were human, investigators from the Branson Police Department and the Taney County Coroner’s Office responded and searched the area, recovering "most of the remains and several other personal articles."

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Forensic investigators identified the remains as those of David Koenig, who was reported missing roughly 21 months ago, according to a Monday press release. Several news outlets identified Koenig as an MMA fighter. 

"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," police said. 

Koenig was last seen around early February 2020 at Peach Tree Inn, where he knew an owner and had been temporarily staying, according to the Branson Tri-Lakes News

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On the night he was last seen, he reportedly texted multiple people saying he feared he might be in danger and seeking their help. A missing persons report was not filed until weeks later. 

Speaking to the news site in August, Tracy Koenig, David’s mother, said her son had "battled addiction for many years on and off." 

"It wasn’t uncommon for him to go off somewhere and not communicate with us for days and even weeks," she told Branson Tri-Lakes News. "We really thought at first it was exactly what he was doing." 

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After receiving the devastating news, Tracy told FOX 7 Kansas City her son was an "incredible person," and the family had been left heartbroken. 

"Literally larger than life," she told FOX 7. "Not just physically, but in everything about him. He was a big, beautiful, gentle giant with a heart of gold."