KANSAS – The Comanche County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that human remains found in a pasture are those of Father Marvin Reif, a Catholic priest who has been missing for two years.
The body was found when someone was in the pasture looking for deer antlers. Father Reif’s remains were found in a brush area.
In April 2017, the fifty-three year old Father Reif walked away from the Protection Valley Manor, a retirement community where he lived. His family told authorities that the Catholic priest suffered from mental health issues.
When he first went missing, Father Reif’s family spoke of his early connection to the Catholic faith from childhood.
“He would make his own communion out of bread and a rolling pin, grape Kool-Aid or something,” Marvin’s sister, Karen Winkelman, told KWCH news. No one was surprised when he decided to become a priest in the Dodge City Diocese.
After almost twenty years of ministry, Father Reif took a leave of absence in 2008 for mental health issues.
“I think he was suffering really severe depression. That and a lot of anxiety and I think things just overwhelmed him easily. I think the leave of absence is what he needed,” Karen said in an interview.
Father Reif moved to Protection Valley Manor, a local nursing home facility, in October 2016. There he led bible studies and got to know the residents. But less than a a year after he arrived, Father Reif vanished.
“It looks like he wanted to go out for a walk and was allowed to go out but was told to stay in the parking lot,” Karen remembers. “It looks like about 30 minutes later the staff couldn’t find him.”
Leading up to the day of his disappearance, his health status had declined rapidly. For two years, no one heard from him. His family longed for closure.
“I think we just need closure and maybe that’s being selfish. Either knowing that he’s okay here or somewhere else,” said Karen.
This week, the human remains found in the pasture were taken to the local hospital for positive identification, and then sent to a funeral home.
“The family (of Father Reif) has been notified and the remains released to them,” the sheriff’s office told KWCH news.