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Missing teen’s truck found abandoned and burned, mother says

By KTVA CBS 11 News 11:26 PM November 14, 2016
ANCHORAGE –

Last updated at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15

A 16-year-old boy went missing late Sunday evening, and his mother and friends have turned to Facebook for help locating him.

In a phone interview Monday night, Edie Grunwald said the last time she spoke to her son, David, was around 7 p.m. Sunday. He called to ask permission to stay out a little later than usual so he could drop his girlfriend off at home in the Smith Road area in Palmer. She said they agreed he would be home by 9:20 p.m. He was driving a Ford Bronco truck.

“Around 10 we decided to go look for him because he wasn’t answering his texts,” Grunwald said in a separate interview. “I was calling him he wasn’t answering any phone calls or anything, so we thought we better go look to see if he was in an accident or off the road.”

When he didn’t come home by 11:30 p.m., Grunwald said she called Alaska State Troopers and filed a missing person’s report.

“It’s extremely out of character for David. Extremely,” she said, adding that her son and his girlfriend had spent the day studying at the Grunwald home. She said he is enrolled at Mat-Su Career and Technical High School to follow his passion for aviation and engineering.

Alaska State Troopers did not immediately issue a statement regarding his disappearance, but they have provided Grunwald with a case number and have since released an online dispatch.

Grunwald said the last texts sent by David that she’s aware of were sent to his girlfriend shortly before he dropped her off, which her father, Adam Mokelke, said in a Facebook post was around 8 p.m. Sunday. In a separate message, he said it was possible David dropped her off as early as 6:30 p.m. He said his daughter has spoken with troopers, as she was the last person to see or hear from David.

“We don’t know anything,” Grunwald said. “We don’t know where he’s at, what his situation is, where he is, if he is crumpled up somewhere hurt or if somebody has him against his will somewhere. We don’t have any idea and the more the time goes on the harder it gets.”

Troopers were able to ping his phone Monday morning off a cell tower along the Palmer-Wasilla Highway, near Arabian Lane, Grunwald said. Troopers and David’s family members searched a three-mile area near where the phone pinged, but Grunwald said they didn’t find anything. She said no new calls or texts have gone out from his phone, and his debit card hasn’t been used since Sunday either.

That was before 12:30 p.m., when Grunwald said she saw a post on Facebook about a Bronco truck that was found abandoned and burned out on the Baldy trail. She said the poster indicated the ground was still warm when the truck was found. Grunwald said her husband had been contacted by troopers around the same time and called to tell her he was headed out to the scene. No one was found in the vehicle, which was confirmed as his missing Bronco, she said.

After the truck was found, Grunwald and others who knew David took to social media to spread the word about his disappearance.

“I’m dismayed,” David’s mother said. “We are fearful of foul play, hoping, appreciating everbody’s prayers and praying that he’s ok and that he will be ok.”

Grunwald said he was wearing jeans, tennis shoes and an orange North Face sweatshirt when he went missing. He is 6 feet tall, she said, and weighs roughly 150 pounds.

Grunwald is asking anyone with information on his whereabouts to call troopers at 907-745-2131, referencing case number AK16083285.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates. KTVA 11’s Shannon Ballard and Shannon Riddle contributed to this report. 

Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated David Grunwald was driving a Chevrolet Bronco, rather than a Ford Bronco, at the time of his disappearance. This has been amended.

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