The discovery of a missing teen's dead body has shaken his Alaska community; now, his teacher reveals that his class will be doing something special to honor the memory of their friend.
David Grunwald, 16, of Palmer, Alaska, has been found dead after he mysteriously disappeared in November, according to Alaska Dispatch News. Another teen led Alaska State Troopers into the woods about 200 feet from the road after he spotted the 16-year-old's remains.
“We all miss him,” Zack Lanphier, David’s teacher, told People. “And as an honor to him we are going to leave his chair open until the end of the semester.”
The teacher and Grunwald's classmates have chosen to leave David's desk empty in honor of their friend and classmate.
Lanphier, a Purple Heart recipient who served as a Marine, says his military experience inspired the idea to honor his student.
"It's one thing I can do in my classroom as a tribute and an honor to his life, the impact he had in our classroom and the impact this has had on our community," Lanphier said. "It's just one thing I can do."
David was reportedly last seen on Nov. 13, when he dropped his girlfriend off at her house. He never returned home that night, so his father called the police. His car was found the next day on Nov. 14, burned on a trail in nearby Wasilla, Alaska.
The teen's body was not found, however, until Dec. 2, after several weeks of a major search operation.
After David's body was found, 16-year-old Erick Almandinger allegedly confessed his involvement in David's death. Erick reportedly watched as a friend beat David. The two then drove David to the Knik River, where another teen shot him in the head, according to Alaska Dispatch News.
Authorities charged Erick as an adult with murder, and he is the only suspect who has been charged. He is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 13.
The only possible motive Erick revealed during questioning is that David smoked all of his marijuana. Court records say Erick and David were drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana in a camper with another teen, identified only as 'D.J.,' on the night David was last seen alive, People reports.
"The kidnapping and murder of our son was unnecessary, weak minded, cowardice and shameful," David's parents wrote in an email to Alaska Dispatch News, calling their son's death "devastating."
"David was a sweet, caring and respecting boy," they added. "He was viciously attacked and murdered."
The investigation into David's death is ongoing.