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Brainerd family says final goodbyes to man who was missing for more than 2 years

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Deacon David Brown (left) and Father Tony Wroblewski officiated funeral services for Marc Welzant Monday, April 24, at St. Francis Catholic Church in Brainerd. Welzant went missing Oct. 26, 2014 and his remains were found March 25, 2017 south of Brainerd. Steve Kohls/ Forum News Service 2 / 2

BRAINERD, Minn. — After more than two years without answers, Marc Welzant's family on Monday, April 24, got the chance to say their goodbyes at his funeral service at St. Francis Catholic Church in Brainerd.

Welzant's family spent 29 months searching, praying and hoping Marc would be found. Welzant went missing on the afternoon of Oct. 26, 2014, when he left his group home in Brainerd. His remains were found March 25 south of Brainerd.

The Rev. Tony Wroblewski of St. Francis Catholic Church in Brainerd officiated funeral services for Welzant. Welzant was buried in the Baxter City Cemetery in a private ceremony.

"There is no doubt in my mind that in all the searching in these last couple of years and all the prayers that were said and in all the walks that have taken place, your hope was that Marc would one day walk into one of your kitchens hungry and be ready for a meal," Wroblewski said. "Not only would you feed him but you'd want to hug him so much that you would never ever let him go. We do have Marc home finally. Our searching is over and we are going to lay him to rest today. Once that last turn of dirt has been thrown over Marc's final resting place we must not pivot ourselves and speak of another kind of homecoming. That homecoming, we believe as Christians is filled with great joy for Marc.'

Wroblewski said there is relief because Welzant's family doesn't have to look for him anymore.

"Yes there are still questions you will ask, and yes, those questions may never be answered," he said. "You need to learn how to live with the ambiguity of unanswered questions."

In the eulogy, Welzant's brother Dave Welzant said their father died five months before Marc was born. Marc, who was the youngest of 11 children, was diagnosed at age 2 with a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi syndrome. Welzant said their mother studied the disorder because she wanted to make sure Welzant had a normal childhood. Welzant graduated from Brainerd High School and lived in the Twin Cities metro area and Duluth before returning to the Brainerd area to be closer with family and friends.

"He was friendly and compassionate," Dave Welzant said of his brother. "He had a great sense of humor and would strike up a conversation with anyone."

Welzant loved to fish, spending time with his family and going to McDonald's for a vanilla ice cream cone, Dave Welzant said.

"Marc's family and community searched for him (all these years) and we finally found him," Welzant said. "His discovery is not what we had hoped. We hoped to bring him home alive. ... We will now bring him home to rest with our parents."

On the day Welzant went missing, he was recorded on video at the Holiday Gas Station on South Sixth Street in Brainerd shortly before 3 p.m. that October day. Brainerd police also received a report at 4:30 p.m. from a group of people who saw Welzant heading west on the walking trail at Kiwanis Park.

Initial searches included the areas of Kiwanis Park to the Buster Dog Park, the Buffalo Hills Trail, behind the Brainerd Water Plant, and the woods between the Mississippi River to Central Lakes College.

Welzant's remains were found March 25 by a family member walking on private property not far from the Mississippi River in a undeveloped wooded area about 2 miles south and west from where he was last seen.

Brainerd police reported there were no preliminary indications foul play was involved. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office listed the provisional manner and cause of his death as undetermined.