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Volunteers continue search for Palmer teen as troopers investigate

  • Author: Chris Klint
  • Updated: November 21, 2016
  • Published November 21, 2016

Hundreds of volunteers turned out over the weekend to search for a Palmer teenager missing for more than a week, as organizers established an anonymous call-in line for tips on his whereabouts.

Brenda Paradise, vice president of nonprofit group Guardian Search and Investigations, said people gathered Saturday at First Baptist Church in Palmer, where volunteers set up a command post in the search for 16-year-old David Grunwald.

After Grunwald didn't return from dropping off his girlfriend on the night of Nov. 13, his Ford Bronco was found burned on a trail up Bald Mountain Ridge. Alaska State Troopers searched the area around the vehicle, spokeswoman Megan Peters said, but made no further searches for Grunwald because no specific search area for him was indicated.

His disappearance remains under investigation but nothing further on the case was available from troopers Monday morning.

16-year-old David Grunwald was reported missing on Nov. 13, 2016, after he didn’t return home. (Photo courtesy of Edith Grunwald)

Grunwald's mother, Edie Grunwald, has said he dropped off his girlfriend at a home off Smith Road in Butte between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; he mentioned possibly stopping by a friend's house but never returned home.

Paradise said that according to a family timeline of events in the case, Grunwald had asked for an extension of his curfew shortly before his family reported him missing.

"He stopped answering his calls and texts by 9:30," Paradise said. "By 10 o'clock they had begun searching for him and by 11 o'clock they had notified local law enforcement."

About 300 people — a "phenomenal turnout," according to Paradise — showed up Saturday to keep looking for him. Search efforts for Grunwald were focused between his girlfriend's home and Bald Mountain Ridge, where his burned Bronco was found.

"There were several organized groups who showed up," Paradise said. "Many of them were military, because this is a huge military family."

An active search group was formed among the volunteers, including military, law enforcement and search and rescue personnel as well as firefighters. They also had help from a volunteer flying a helicopter, as well as searchers riding all-terrain vehicles.

"We had cadaver dogs come out — I think we had six horse teams come out," Paradise said.

Volunteers gather at First Baptist Church in Palmer on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, to search for 16-year-old David Grunwald, last seen in the Butte area Nov. 13. (Courtesy Donna Anthony / AIA)

The search group was backed up by a support group, which posted missing-persons fliers for Grunwald and provided food for searchers.

Despite troopers' absence from the weekend search, the groups conducting it on a pro bono basis — GSI, as well as the private Alaska Investigation Agency — were still closely coordinating with them.

"We're working hand in hand with this," Paradise said. "They are absolutely doing their due diligence with this case."

An anonymous tip line that can accept both voice and text messages has also been set up at 907-290-8999.

"A lot of people are afraid to call law enforcement; a lot of people are afraid to get involved because there's minors involved," Paradise said.

In addition to the tip line, anyone with information on Grunwald or his whereabouts can call troopers at 907-269-5497 or 800-478-9333, or Crime Stoppers at 907-745-3333. Updates on search efforts are being posted to a dedicated Facebook page.

Reporter Zaz Hollander contributed information to this story.

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