Mother of MMA fighter David Koenig desperate for answers months after son vanished from Branson, Missouri

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By Andrea Cavallier

A mother in Branson, Missouri is desperate to find her son, who has been missing for nearly five months.

David Koenig, a 25-year-old amateur Mixed Martial Arts fighter, was last seen on February 8, 2020, at thePeach Tree Inn on Green Mountain Drive in Branson.

David Koenig

David’s mother, Tracy Koenig, told Dateline her son is friends with the owner of the Peach Tree Inn and had been staying there for a couple of nights.

“He messaged a few of his friends asking for help,” Tracy said. “He thought he might be in some sort of trouble. But by the time they read the messages and tried to respond to him, he had stopped messaging. There was no answer from him.”

That was on February 8. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Tracy explained that David had lost his phone, so he had recently bought a secondhand one with just WiFi that he used to message his friends and family.

“He’s gone off the grid before, but not like this,” Tracy said. “And he’s 25, so we didn’t report him missing for a couple of weeks. But it’s not like him to not contact anyone for this long. It’s been months. Something is wrong.”

In March, David’s family reported him missing to the Branson Police Department and a joint investigation was launched with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Master Sergeant Danielle Heil with the Missouri State Highway Patrol told Dateline that David’s disappearance is still an active investigation and they are following all tips and leads that they receive.

“We’ve hit dead end after dead end and it’s very frustrating,” Sergeant Heil said. “But we’re still conducting interviews and talking with anyone who may have information that could lead us to David. We’re not giving up.”

Sergeant Heil told Dateline investigators are looking at his disappearance as foul play because of the nature of his Facebook messages on the night he was last seen.

“He sounded like he was in distress,” Sergeant Heil said. “And wrote that he may be in trouble. This is a six-foot-six, 240-pound man -- he doesn’t just disappear.”

Tracy told Dateline she’s worried that her son got into some sort of trouble or is trying to protect his family by keeping his distance.

“He’s just not someone who would disappear. And he’s not a guy that someone could just take down,” Tracy said. “He’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s a big, strong guy - but also with a big personality and big heart. He would do anything to protect his family.”

David, known as Dave or Big D, is the oldest of three kids. He is especially close with his 17-year-old sister.

“They’re so alike, they’re basically the same person,” Tracy said. “And he hasn’t even messaged her, which is very unusual. She’s just devastated by all of this.”

Tracy said David spent most of his life inside the gym, eventually working his way to success as an amateur MMA fighter on the local circuit.

“If somebody meets Dave they don't generally forget him,” Tracy said. “He’s really well known in this community and everyone is just worried about him. They’ve been so supportive at this time.”

Tracy told Dateline tips have been trickling in, both through the police department tip line and through the Facebook group “Mystery of the Missing Fighter,” but nothing that has led them to finding David.

“It’s just all you think about 24 hours a day. Every day. For months,” Tracy said. “But you still have to function and go about your life. And that’s hard. For us, this has left a huge hole in our lives.”

Tracy said their family is not giving up hope that he will be found.

“We just want to know that he’s OK,” Tracy said. “Dave, if you see this, just find a way to come home or let us know that you’re OK.”

A $5,000 reward is being offered by the Koenig family for information that leads to David’s whereabouts.

David is described as 6'6", weighing 240 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He has numerous tattoos, including a scorpion on his right upper arm, the word “OMERTA” on his chest and “The Bullpen Mafia” on his abdomen.” Part of his middle finger on his left hand is missing.

Anyone with information about David’s whereabouts is asked to call the Branson Police Department at 417-334-3300.