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Missing Alaska Teen David Grunwald Killed for Allegedly Smoking His Friend’s Weed

A missing 16-year-old boy from Palmer, Alaska, was killed for allegedly smoking his friend’s weed, Alaska state troopers claimed in an affidavit obtained by the Alaska Dispatch News.

David Grunwald was reported missing late November 13, NBC News reported. He was last seen dropping his girlfriend off at her father’s home in Palmer. He then called his mother and said he planned to stop by a friend’s house and would be home a few minutes later than his 9 p.m. curfew.

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Grunwald didn’t return home. The next day, his Ford Bronco was discovered torched on a trail 20 minutes away from his house, according to NBC News. More than three weeks later, on December 2, Grunwald’s remains were discovered in a wooded area. He had been beaten and shot, according to the court documents.

David Grunwald
David Grunwald

The Mat-Su Career and Tech High School student’s friend Erick Almandinger was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and kidnapping in connection with the case on December 3. According to court documents obtained by the Alaska Dispatch News, Almandinger, also 16, confessed to his involvement in the murder. Police believe Grunwald was killed for smoking Almandinger’s marijuana.

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The “only motive” Almandinger indicated to authorities was that Grunwald “had smoked all his weed,” Sergeant Tony Wegrzyn wrote in an affidavit filed in the Palmer Superior Court on December 3, per Alaska Dispatch News. “He said they didn’t get any money [for the weed].”

According to the affidavit, Grunwald went to Almandinger’s house after dropping off his girlfriend “to drink and smoke” in a camper trailer in the yard. Almandinger left the trailer at one point and returned with a .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun, which he reportedly handed to a third friend.

David Grunwald
David Grunwald

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The third teen reportedly pistol-whipped Grunwald with the weapon, causing him to go “in and out of consciousness” as they drove to Butte, Alaska, according to the affidavit. Almandinger said the third friend killed Grunwald, per the affidavit, before changing his story and claiming a fourth 16-year-old individual killed the teen. The friends then reportedly set Grunwald’s Bronco ablaze with gasoline to destroy the evidence. They also allegedly applied bleach in the camper and burned a carpet.

“The kidnapping and murder of our son was unnecessary, weak-minded, cowardice and shameful,” Grunwald’s parents, Ben and Edie, told the Alaska Dispatch News via email. “David was a sweet, caring and respecting boy. He was viciously attacked and murdered.”

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