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Former KU soccer player's death shines light on domestic violence crisis

Regan Gibbs
Posted at 8:18 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 23:20:52-04

LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Lawrence Police Department continues to investigate the death of 25-year old Regan Gibbs, a former University of Kansas women's soccer player.

According to police, domestic violence is seen as a contributing factor.

LPD was called to an apartment complex near 6th Street Monday night, identifying Chad Joseph Marek as the suspect.

"Domestic violence is about power and control," Megan Stuke, the executive director at the Willow Domestic Violence Center, said.

The center is a key resource for those in unhealthy domestic relationships in the Lawrence community. LPD says it's an uphill battle for those to help others in need.

"It's very difficult as a family member or friend to pull somebody out of that situation," LPD Chief Rick Lockhart said.

The Willow says it has seen an uptick in domestic violence calls in recent years, and they cut across all demographics.

"DV happens to people of all backgrounds, all ages, it's not just poor people, it's not about drugs and alcohol, it's about power and control," Stuke said.

According to Stuke, the center has active outreach with KU.

"Young people 30 and under don't see themselves in a demographic that gets services, that's an extra layer of support that they need to know we're there for them as well," Stuke said.

Lockhart's department is even more aware of domestic violence calls and incidents while working in a college town.

"As a police department, knowing that when we respond to those calls, we need to be aware of that as well, knowing that our college kids maybe don't have the family support they do at home," he said.

Community resources like the Willow say they need to educate and inform to avoid more tragic outcomes.

"DV is not always about bruises and violence and even yelling, it can be a lot of different and more subtle things," Stuke said.

KU soccer head coach Mark Francis released a statement regarding Gibbs' death:

"Our soccer program is heartbroken to hear about the tragic loss of Regan. 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.”
Mark Francis