When snow began to fall over the weekend it brought winter and the hope of the holiday season at last. The change from dull dry brown to wonderful clean white fluff on the ground and in the trees was very welcome. But then something happened that darkened our valley. The headlines spelled it out in the news papers and the online sites in big, bold, black letters.
“REMAINS FOUND; TEEN ARRESTED ON FIRST DEGREE MURDER CHARGES” said the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman’s Sunday paper. “REMAINS OF MISSING TEEN BELIEVED FOUND” said the Alaska Dispatch News in their Sunday edition. The three week mystery of young David Grunwald’s disappearance had come to a tragic end. It took the breath away from many here in the Mat-Su Valley as the news broke, including my own. I was dreading this would happen ever since I heard his SUV was found just a few miles from my home in Wasilla, burnt to a crisp. Yet, like many, including his family, I held out to the hope that he would turn up alive and well.
There are signs and posters all over the place with his young face on everyone one of them. Even an electronic billboard off the Parks Highway across from the hospital featured David’s face and his family’s plea for help or information lit up strong and steady for 24 hours a day. Now it will be darkened, it’s plea silenced. We know the end now. How I wish it wasn’t so.
I feel so badly for his family having to endure weeks and weeks of not knowing where their son was, what his health was, and who was behind it all. As a parent of four wonderful young people, I can only imagine how I would feel if I was thrust into a similar situation. I would frankly go insane with worry and dread. I cannot imagine the pain of getting the news of the death of any of my children, let alone as the result of murder.
No parent should ever have to bury their child. They should live on to put the parent into the good earth at the end of a long life well-lived — not the other way around. David was only here among the living for 16 short years. 16 years of promise for the future cut short, snuffed out for reasons that remain unknown.
The accused is also 16. Erick Almandinger of Palmer was arrested for first degree murder. I can’t even think about what his family is going through. Two families thrust into the darkest of times brought on by the original Biblical evil of mankind: murder.
The insanity of it all boggles the mind and burns the soul.
Now there must come justice. Justice in the form of a trial for Almandinger and anyone else involved and accused of this most heinous of acts. The accused is going to be tried as an adult. If others are involved they should be tried the same way. There are questions that need to be answered as this investigation steps into a new phase. Evidence must be found and delivered for trial. Our law enforcement officials have been on top of it all and must continue.
I, for one, would like know the who, where, and especially the whys. I’m sure Almandinger’s family and friends are asking the same questions, needing to know the answers with every baited breath.
Murder makes victims of us all one way or the other.
As it is things have become shaded in these days of the long dark. David’s spirit cries out from the cold depths of the grave for the light of justice and hope. We could all use a little hope to light our way from the evil that has been thrust upon us, especially during this holiday season, more than ever.