Ben and Edie Grunwald are still in shock as they near their first Christmas without their son.

“He was the one who decorated the tree, so it won’t be going up today,” Edie Grunwald said of her son David, who was found murdered near Palmer on Dec. 2.

They described their son an energetic young man who would come “bounding down the stairs” each morning. He had a passion for flying and wanted to join the military.

“He loved going places and seeing things, and he just wanted to go, go, go,” she said.

David Grunwald. Courtesy Edie Grunwald

David Grunwald. Courtesy Edie Grunwald

Edie Grunwald attended a vigil for her son Friday night. She said it showed the outpouring of support they have experienced since David went missing.

“I was just in awe of all the work that went into putting that together,” she said.

Five teenagers are charged in connection to David’s murder. Four of them were arraigned Saturday. Edie Grunwald called her son’s death “unconscionable” and said the teens suspected of killing her son acted with cowardice.

“You think you’re so smart and tough, but you guys are wrong,” she said.

The Grunwalds applauded law enforcement on their work thus far, and urged the justice system to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Edie and Ben Grunwald said bringing the death penalty to Alaska should be considered.

“My son doesn’t get to breathe anymore. He’s gone,” Edie Grunwald said. “These kids — or these people — they get to breathe.”

Her husband echoed her sentiment, comparing the arrested teenagers to an animal that killed a child.

“Would we take that wild animal, catch it, put it in a pen, feed it three times a day, [and] give it medical attention when it got a sore paw? What would we do?” Ben Grunwald asked. “We all know what the answer is.”

The death penalty has not existed in Alaska since its statehood in 1959.

Ben Grunwald said he wanted to deliver another message to Alaskans.

“Please pray for the troopers and pray for the prosecutor that they have the wisdom and the knowledge to do this swiftly and completely,” he said.

Edie Grunwald asked a question many people aware of the case are also wondering.

“Where are the parents of these kids that are doing this stuff or have done this stuff?” she asked. “I don’t think David is the only one.”

Finally, Edie Grunwald said the charged teens had many opportunities to save David after he was beaten, but chose not to.

“They could have stopped at any point,” she said. “My son would have been broken, [but] things would not have been as bad as they are now.”

Both parents made it clear they wanted no leniency for the people involved.

“I hope that everybody prays for the justice system in this case to be fierce,” Edie Grunwald stated.

Details as to what the four newly arrested teenagers told investigators are expected to become available once charging documents are released on Monday.

KTVA 11’s Eric Ruble can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.