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After two years, remains of missing priest found
Marvin Reif located in Comanche County pasture
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Rev. Marvin Reif

Family issues statement about finding of Marvin Reif’s remains

Below is statement released by the family of the late Rev. Marvin Reif. The priest with Barton County ties went missing two years ago in Comanche County, and his remains were found this week:

“We can never begin to thank all of those who have so faithfully searched for and  prayed that our brother, Father Marvin Reif, be found. Our constant hope was that he would be found alive and well but now our hearts are completely broken knowing that he has actually been deceased for almost two years.  And yet, somehow, we find peace in knowing that he is at peace. 

“We are so very grateful to Sheriff Mike Lehl and the Comanche County Sheriff’s Dept for the kindness they have shown us over these past two years. We also thank our own Barton County Sheriff, Brian Bellendir for his support and to Attorney Don Reif for helping us along the way. We would also like to thank the media for their support and patience over the past 24 hours. 

“Yes,  Marvin was a wonderful Catholic priest who lived his faith daily, but more importantly, he was a son, a brother, an uncle and a friend to thousands. He was a kind, gentle and loving soul that truly cared about his family and friends. 

“Although this is not the ending we had hoped for, we thank God that Marvin is with his Lord, Jesus Christ, surround by family that has gone before him in God’s most perfect kingdom. 

"Marvin is home.”

PROTECTION – Nearly two years to the day after the Rev. Marvin Reif wandered away form a nursing facility in Protection, his remains were found in a pasture near the small Comanche County community, Comanche County Sheriff Mike Lehl said.

Reif, who would be 55 years old now and had family in Barton County, walked away from Protection Valley Manor in Protection on April 3, 2017, where he had lived for a few months, and had not been seen since. He suffered from depression and anxiety. 

“On March 27, 2019, Comanche County Communications received a 911 call advising that a person thought they had found human remains in a pasture on the east side of Protection,” Lehl said. The Comanche County Sheriff’s Office, Coldwater Police Department and Protection Police Department responded to the scene and it was determined this was the case. The Kansas State Coroners Office was notified at that time and responded to the scene to assist with the investigation.

“The remains were transported to Comanche County Hospital for a positive identification and then on to  Nicholson-Ricke funeral home in Hoisington,” the sheriff said. The remains were confirmed to be that of Reif, and the family has been notified and the remains released to them.

The case of the missing priest included a bizarre claim he was being hidden in a Texas monastery. 

A possible lead came in the form of an anonymous note, hand-written in block letters, sent to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation in 2017. But the family didn’t learn about it until 2018.

The note claimed Marvin was being hidden by the Catholic Church in a Texas monastery. The KBI forwarded it on to the Comanche County Sheriff’s Office in September 2017.

However, the Reif family didn’t hear about the note until July 2018. 

In November of last year, a fund was been set up by his brother and sister, Duane A. Reif of Hoisington and Karen Winkelman of Great Bend, the guardians/conservators for his estate. 

The funds were used to hire a professional private investigator to help in the search for Reif, offer a reward and any expenses incurred in the search.

A priest in the Dodge City Diocese, Reif had suffered from mental illness for a number of years. He has served in churches throughout central and southwest Kansas.

Protection is a city in Comanche County, located in southwest Kansas next to the Oklahoma border. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 514.