LAWRENCE, Kan. — The mother and four sisters of a former University of Kansas athlete tearfully remember her while verbalizing their devastating loss.
They remembered 25-year-old Regan Gibbs as loving sister and friend who was an incredible athlete who also loved God and her faith.
Regan was the oldest of five girls in the Gibbs’ family. Her mother and four younger sisters spoke publically for the first time since her death Friday morning.
“She was a fantastic older sister,” Kristin Gibbs, Regan’s mother, said.
Regan’s four younger sisters agreed as they shared memories of their sister, whom they also considered a close friend.
“On my 16th birthday she took me driving and bought me Dairy Queen and insisted we take as many pictures as we could. My favorite thing about Regan was even if she was frustrated with you, you would never know it,” Erin Gibbs, Regan’s sister, said.
“One of my favorite memories of her … was there was this one elderly man walking around dancing with himself, and he had some moves. Regan decided to go down and dance with him. I think she was drawn by his energy and expression,” Kearan, Regan’s sister, said.
The siblings also agreed Regan was a friend to everyone, especially those who were struggling with their own lives.
“She had a heart for the lost. When we were in school she would find people sitting alone and befriend them. Regan was genuinely interested in getting to know you. She didn’t care what you looked like or what other people thought. She saw the good in everyone,” Ashlyn Gibbs, Regan’s sister, said.
To the outside world, Regan was many things. A daughter, a sister, a mentor, a friend. But to us and to those who knew her, she was a light,” Madelyn Gibbs, Regan’s sister, said.
Regan also was an advocate for the homeless and for those who struggled with mental health on a daily basis, according to her family.
“She would behold and seek out the broken hearted with tender compassion,” Madelyn said.
Compassion is not what Regan experienced in the final moments of her life, according to police. Lawrence officers said they found the former KU soccer player’s body in the apartment she shared with her partner, Chad Marek. Investigators said Marek was the one who called 911 after Gibbs’ death.
Officers also said Marek’s mental health was an issue when they arrived at the apartment.
Investigators said Marek confessed to killing Gibbs. When asked why, police said Marek answered that “God told him to do it.”
“This really does not feel real. I think everyone of us could say that we are expecting her to just come home from one of her long stays away in Kansas. I miss her so much,” Erin said.
Lawrence police said they are investigating Gibbs’ death as a domestic violence homicide.
Regan’s mother said the family did everything they could, but believes Marek controlled her daughter.
“She was not legally married to the man who took her from us. He manipulated her through her faith and as we all heard through domestic violence awareness campaigns, he slowly isolated her from people who expressed concern,” Regan’s mom said. “”Her phone was suddenly not working. Conversations were limited to his phone, but on speaker no video allowed. And his control over her became very clear during the one and only time we met him.”
Marek is charged with first-degree murder in Regan’s death. He is scheduled to be in court again May 24.
“We did not ask to be in this situation, so we appreciate privacy as out family, extended family all tried to get through this,” Regan’s mom said.
A family member set up a gofundme account to help Regan’s mom and sisters. Hundreds of people have donated to it, raising more than the original $20,000 goal.