Organizers are expecting a big turnout Friday for a Candlelight Vigil of Hope and Prayer for David Grunwald event.

Grunwald is the Palmer teen who was missing for weeks before his body was discovered in the Knik River Road area. Another 16-year-old has been charged with murder and kidnapping in connection to the slaying.

Gina Spangler is a longtime family friend who is organizing the vigil. She said it was originally planned before Grunwald was found, but as the facts of his death began to be revealed, it became clear that the community needed a place to grieve and heal.

“I don’t think we had any idea how much of a need there was,” said Spangler. “It was mostly going to be, pray for David, pray for his soul in passing and bring people together. But it’s really starting to become not just for the Grunwalds and for David, but for the community, as well.”

Spangler said many people in the Mat-Su area are upset that Grunwald’s accused killer is another 16-year-old. And that, according to charging documents, other teens were involved in the murder or knew about it and said nothing.

“There’s a lot of emotion, anger, sadness, frustration, fear, everything that’s going on out there right now,” said Spangler. “We just want to bring everyone together and get a place for people to start healing.”

Spangler said the event will include speakers, family and friends who knew the teen best. Everyone is invited.

The vigil starts at 6 p.m. Friday at the Borealis Theatre on the Alaska State Fair Grounds. Guests are asked to use the purple gate and dress warmly since the event is mostly outdoors.

KTVA will live stream this event on our Facebook page, beginning at 6 p.m.

KTVA 11’s Lauren Maxwell can be reached via email or on Twitter.

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