Still searching for answers - Welzant family keeps looking for brother Marc

Marc Welzant's 50th birthday is today. His 10 siblings would love nothing more than to celebrate the occasion with him, but Marc went missing on Oct. 26, 2014. Dave Welzant, 59, was his brother's guardian and still thinks about Marc every day. "I...

Marc Welzant
Marc Welzant

Marc Welzant's 50th birthday is today.

His 10 siblings would love nothing more than to celebrate the occasion with him, but Marc went missing on Oct. 26, 2014. Dave Welzant, 59, was his brother's guardian and still thinks about Marc every day.

"I was pretty close with him," Welzant said. "He was more like my son rather than my brother, I took care of him."

Welzant, a developmentally disabled adult, left his group home the afternoon of Oct. 26, 2014. He was last seen on video at the Holiday Gas Station on South Sixth Street in Brainerd shortly before 3 p.m.

Dave Welzant isn't sure how he would react if Marc were found, he said, but he'd be able to finally go through a normal grieving process.


"The normal grieving that you don't really go through until you find out what happened to him," Welzant said. "You never really get to finalize it. It's always out there."

Marc was the youngest of 11 children and was born right after the family's father died, said Mary Peterson, one of Marc's sisters. The timing meant Marc was a blessing to the family, she said.

"He really enjoyed his birthday celebrations," Peterson said.

The Welzants are a large Catholic family, Dave Welzant said, and for the past three birthdays since Marc disappeared, the family hosted a church service in Brainerd to remember him. Marc's birthdays haven't been the celebrations they were before his disappearance, said Jane Long, one of his sisters.

"Marc loved his birthdays and made sure everyone knew his birthday was approaching," Long said.

Marc was friendly, outgoing and had a good sense of humor, Dave Welzant said. Marc was diagnosed with Prader-willi syndrome at 2 years of age, Welzant said. It's a genetic disorder, which according to Mayo Clinic, can result in a range of physical, mental and behavioral problems. The most notable symptom is a constant sense of hunger, which can result in weight gain if diet is not closely monitored.

Marc went through the Brainerd Public School system in the special education program and ended up graduating from Brainerd High School, Dave Welzant said. Shortly after high school, however, Marc started eating frequently and his weight ballooned, Welzant said. Because of this, Marc went to live in a group home where his diet could be monitored, which combined with exercise, resulted in significant weight loss.

Marc liked watching old Westerns and listening to AC/DC, Dave Welzant said. He had a good sense of humor, he was creative and liked making crafts like bracelets and jewelry to give to people.
From an early age, Marc loved to fish, Peterson said, and continued fishing throughout his life. He was also an animal lover who raised chickens and sold eggs for awhile.


Marc's position as the youngest of 11 children meant he received his fair share of spoiling, Long said. He was happy, positive and loved to fish every chance he had, she said.

"He loved his family and called us everyday and spent a lot of time with us," Long said.

Gone, not forgotten

Marc's disappearance has strengthened the bond among his siblings, Dave Welzant said. Many of them still live in the area, he said, and tend to treasure the time they spend with each other more now. It's drawn the family even closer together, Peterson said.

"We have always been a close family and continue to be," Long said.

Every day, something reminds Peterson about Marc. They used to go places on the weekends and Marc knew many people throughout the community, she said. It's difficult knowing he's missing and the family has no answers, she said.

"Every day I pray to get some answers on what happened," Peterson said.

Marc is not the type of person who would make enemies, Dave Welzant said, so it's confusing he would go missing. Because of this, Welzant thinks Marc saw some illegal activity and told someone about it, resulting in the people he saw retaliating against Marc.


"Either he was in a car or somehow left here," Welzant said. "He's not very capable on his own."

It's possible someone took advantage of Marc's friendly and outgoing nature and harmed him, Peterson said, resulting in his disappearance.

Marc had no money, cellphone, transportation or reason to disappear, Long said, so she feels he didn't disappear voluntarily.

"He was at a good stage in his life and very content," Long said. "He was proud of his weight loss and looking forward to the holidays with his family."

Marc didn't own a cellphone, but knew all of his family members' phone numbers, Dave Welzant said. Marc called them almost daily, he said, so it's hard to believe he wouldn't have called a family member if he had disappeared on his own.

In the following years, it's become impossible to adjust to Marc's disappearance, Long said, since there's been no resolution.

"It's difficult and hard not knowing what happened to Marc or not knowing where he is, feeling that somebody does know what did happen to Marc," Long said.

Dave Welzant mentioned how authorities were able to find the remains of Jacob Wetterling in September 2016, after Wetterling had been missing for nearly 27 years. The fact the Wetterling case finally reached a conclusion after such a long time gives Welzant hope his brother will be found someday.


"There's some piece of information out there, something that will lead to ... we'll find out what happened to him," Welzant said.


Help find Marc

The family is organizing a search for Marc, planned for the weekend of April 22. The organization United Legacy, a nonprofit search and rescue organization, is helping organize the search. According to its website, United Legacy uses a variety of strategies to help find missing loved ones, relieving the burden for families of managing a search.

Marc's family and friends haven't given up or stopped looking for him, Dave Welzant said.

"We figure, sooner or later, we'll find him," Dave Welzant said.

Welzant is described as having brown hair, brown eyes and being about 5 feet, 2 inches tall. The gas station video shows Welzant wearing a dark colored jacket and dark colored pants.

Those with information regarding Welzant's disappearance are asked to contact the Brainerd Police Department at 218-829-2805.

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