Girlfriend of Alaska Teen Allegedly Killed for Smoking Friend's Weed: He Was an 'Old-Fashioned' Gentleman

Five Alaska teens have been charged in connection with David Grunwald's death

David Grunwald - 2
Photo: Courtesy the Grunwald family

The last time Victoria Danielle saw boyfriend David Grunwald alive, he dropped her off at her Palmer, Alaska, home. It was Nov. 13, a Sunday evening, and David had plans to hang out with friends later that evening.

Victoria never saw David again. That night, he was allegedly kidnapped and killed by his friends for allegedly smoking all of their weed, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE. The 16-year-old was bludgeoned with a handgun, driven to a remote wooded area and shot to death. Police have arrested five teens in connection with his death.

It was exactly one month ago, but for Victoria, it feels like yesterday.

“I’ll never forget the many times he told me he loved me,” Victoria tells PEOPLE exclusively. “And the many times he told me he was going to marry me, he will always have a very special place in my heart.”

Victoria says she and David had dated for a year. They often talked about spending the rest of their lives together.

Classmates of the couple at Mat-Su Career & Tech High School say they were an inspiring example of young love.

“It was pure,” a friend tells PEOPLE. “The kind [of love] that could have lasted forever.”

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From the start, David was a gentleman, Victoria remembers. He never raised his voice, always made her smile and loved his family and friends.

“He was very old-fashioned in many ways,” Victoria tells PEOPLE. “Especially with dating. I was extremely lucky to be introduced to such a gem.

“He never let me open a door, he took me on real dates —he picked me up almost every Friday at 6pm to take me out to a nice dinner— and said ‘Yes, M’am’ and ‘No, Sir’,” she continues.

David Grunwald - 1
Courtesy the Grunwald family

Victoria remembers one time when she and David were waiting for their parents to pick them up from the movies and people nearby made them uncomfortable. Instead of leaving her when his mother arrived, David waited for Victoria’s mother to arrive as well. While they waited, David held her hand, she says.

“He will always be one of my bestest friends,” she says.

A Violent Night

David’s remains were discovered on Dec. 2, according to an Alaska State Troopers news release. The same day, 16-year-old Erick Almandinger allegedly confessed to involvement in the killing, saying he was a friend of David’s, according to the state troopers. He was charged with murder in the first degree, kidnapping, murder in the second degree and evidence tampering. He has been charged as an adult.

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Almandinger allegedly told investigators David came over to hang out, drink and smoke with two friends when things turned violent.

“The only motive that Almandinger indicated was present during the event was that [David] had smoked all his weed,” court documents state.

On Friday, four additional teens were charged in connection with David’s kidnapping and murder, bringing the number of teens charged to five.

Devin Peterson, 18, Austin Barrett, 19, and two minor teens were all taken into custody for allegedly playing a role in David’s death, according to a news release from the Alaska State Troopers obtained by PEOPLE.

Peterson is charged with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution in the first degree. Barrett is charged with murder in the first degree, kidnapping, and murder in the second degree. The two youngest suspects, both 16, are charged with murder in the first degree, kidnapping, murder in the second degree, and evidence tampering. It is unclear if the two minor suspects will be charged as adults.

Peterson, Barrett, Almandinger and the two minor teens are scheduled to appear in court Tuesday afternoon, Palmer Superior Court officials have told PEOPLE. Information about their attorneys was not immediately available.

Family Seeking the Death Penalty

In an interview with KTVA, David’s parents called his death “unconscionable” and said Alaska should consider implementing the death penalty, which has not existed in Alaska since it became a state in 1959.

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

Victoria didn’t comment on the Grunwalds’ wishes but says she has faith in the prosecution.

“[David] was taken from us in an unimaginable horrible way,” she tells PEOPLE. “There will be justice.”

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