Article updated at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 17; 6:39 p.m. Wednesday, May 18:
Regan Noelle Gibbs’ life was brought to an end Monday night — police say at the hands of her husband, Chad Marek. She was 25 years old.
Marek, 26, of Lawrence, has been charged with first-degree murder after law enforcement allegedly found him with Gibbs’ body on Monday evening at the apartment they shared in the 2500 block of West Sixth Street in Lawrence. The couple had married just a few months ago, in November 2021.
Marek was arrested at the scene and was being held at the Douglas County jail on $1 million bond. The high amount was because, the prosecutor said, of the “excessive brutality” of the crime, and because the defendant was adamant that what he did was justified.
Police have not released the cause of Gibbs’ death pending the results of an autopsy, but Lawrence Police Chief Rich Lockhart said there was blunt force trauma involved. Marek called 911 Monday night and told dispatchers that God told him to kill his wife, Lockhart said.
Marek also told the judge at his first appearance that “Jesus Christ is my attorney.” His public Facebook posts reveal intense religious and political ideology, he has been known to preach on Massachusetts Street, and he reportedly told the dispatcher who took his 911 call that the Lord loves her daughter and that she’s a great mom.
Gibbs played soccer for the University of Kansas from 2015 through 2019, according to team rosters. She was a goalie and a member of two NCAA Tournament teams during her career at KU, according to KU Athletics.
“Our soccer program is heartbroken to hear about the tragic loss of Regan,” Coach Mark Francis said in a statement Tuesday. “She was a tremendous teammate and young woman, and touched so many during her time at Kansas. Regan will always be remembered for the impact she had both on and off the field. We share our condolences to her family, friends and teammates during this difficult time.”
A GoFundMe page launched to help Gibbs’ family cover her funeral expenses says Gibbs was “a beautiful, kindhearted girl who loved Jesus and people. She had a big heart for the homeless and hoped to go back to school to become a Physicians Assistant to do mission work.”
“Regan had a precious soul and she was loved by everyone who knew her,” the page says. “She is leaving behind her mom and four younger sisters who are heartbroken by this tragic loss.”
The family is not prepared to deal with the unexpected expense, according to the page. As of a Tuesday evening update to this article, the fundraiser had reached about $5,200 of its $20,000 goal.
Friends of the couple spoke with us about them Tuesday after hearing the news of Gibbs’ death.
Hugh Wentz has been a college evangelist for 40 years, mostly at KU.
Wentz said he was Gibbs’ spiritual adviser and mentor through college and beyond, along with his wife. Wentz said he met Gibbs in the Kansas Union five or six years ago, and that the couple had stayed in touch with her.
“We would get together with her and answer questions about things like miracles and the gifts of the spirit,” Wentz said. “She was really excited about that side of Christianity. We talked about the basics of love: patience, kindness and goodness.”
Gibbs had moved away from Lawrence for a while. She had some family issues, and Wentz said he and his wife “walked with her through a lot of problems.” When she came back to Lawrence, she stayed with the couple, he said.
Marek had wanted to meet Gibbs, but Gibbs wasn’t really into him, Wentz said — Marek was “a little bit different.”
“She tried to avoid Chad,” Wentz said. “Chad was just a different kind of guy.”
And eventually, Gibbs had moved out of state again, not wanting to marry Marek, Wentz said — but “Chad flew down and talked her into marrying him.”
The couple had advised Marek that things were moving very fast, Wentz said.
“When they came back she was different. I could tell it felt wrong,” Wentz said. “I knew from being around them that he seemed very possessive of her.”
David Lester, a friend who attended Freedom Church with Marek, said he was having mixed emotions.
Lester said he didn’t see Marek as a murderer, and that he’d hug him on the street if he saw him today.
He called Marek a “brother in Christ.”
“Chad’s been a dear friend and close brother for along time,” Lester said. “This is devastating to the community and his friends and family. We’re just trying to process everything.”
Lester said Marek was kind of extreme in his beliefs – for instance, he believed that women shouldn’t be able to preach in church.
“He was intense at times. Everything was black and white,” Lester said. “The pastor at our church was working with him trying to help him be balanced.”
“… He was very passionate, but it was like there were no limits.”
Marek’s next court appearance is set for May 24.
All arrestees and defendants in criminal cases should be presumed not guilty unless and until they are convicted.
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