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Parents Fear Daughter Being Held Against Her Will by Texas Church

Catherine Grove, a 26-year-old nursing student, disappeared from her home in Fayetteville in July and was found living in Wells, Texas within a church community.
FAYETTEVILLE, AR (KETK) - A Fayetteville family is now living in Wells, Texas, as they try to reunite with their daughter, who they believe is being held against her will.

"We're sorry the number you are trying to call is not reachable," is the only thing Patty and Andy Grove hear when they try to reach their daughter on her cell phone.

Catherine Grove, a 26-year-old nursing student, disappeared from her home in Fayetteville on July 2.

After endless attempts to reach their daughter, finally, almost a week later, they heard her voice.

"When she first called us on July 7, it was 11:30 at night, she said, 'I'm in Wells, Texas, I'm with a group of people that are taking good care of me, but Mom and Dad I can't listen to you any more, I have to keep my hands over my ears and I can only listen to my 'elders,' and that was alarming to us," Patty Grove said.

That alarming phone call prompted Patty and Andy Grove to travel to Wells and figure out what was going on with their daughter.

"We've been here over eight weeks, and every day is the same task. We go around town interviewing people looking for any information if anyone would know where our daughter Catherine might be living," Catherine's father Andy Grove said.

Now living out of an R.V., Patty and Andy Grove say the only people who know where Catherine is are the members of "The Church of Wells."

They believe Catherine found this church on the Internet, and went to Texas to become a member. In their endless attempts to contact Catherine, they landed on the church doorstep. They said a young man answered the door.

"He steps out and we say, 'We're Mr. and Mrs. Grove, we're looking for our daughter Catherine Grove, do you know where she is?'" Patty said. "And this man came out and brought another man with him, and they both stood in front of us, and their very first words to us were, 'Mr. and Mrs. Grove, we have reason to believe that you're going to kidnap your daughter, subvert her from our teachings, that we care for her soul and you don't.'"

The 57-member Evangelical church is run by three "elders," Ryan Ringnald, Jacob Gardner and Sean Morris. They said Catherine's salvation to the Lord is fueling her decision to not see her family, not them.

"When Christ calls a man, if he has his allegiance to his family first of all, or to his job first of all, or to his earthly possessions or riches first of all, that allegiance needs to be cut, if must be severed, or that man cannot truly bow the knee and worship in admiration in true service to the Lord Jesus Christ," Gardner said.

The only contact the Groves have had with their daughter has been limited and on the Church's terms.

"When she says she doesn't want to see her family we say, 'OK, Amen, we're not going to force you,' but when she says I do want to see my family we say 'OK, praise God.' Gardner said.  "Just the other morning, she said she wanted to see her family, so we said, 'OK.'"

Patty Grove said visits with her daughter are supervised and determined by the church.

"We've met with her two times, with the elders present, and they spoke for her, qualified her statements," she said. "The other two times was with a deputy, we have not been able to talk to Catherine by herself openly."

After seeking help from local law enforcement, the Groves were told there is nothing more they can do since Catherine is an adult. Patty and Andy were recently in Fayetteville. They said someone took over Catherine's phone line on June 21, so they are asking friends and family for help.

"Over the past nine weeks, none of Catherine's family or even lifelong friends have been able to make any communication with her," Andy said.

"Maybe under pressure, maybe these men might reactivate her phone, and maybe some people might be able to start calling her," Patty said.

They asked us to share her number, (479) 871-3218, and are encouraging friends and family to keep calling.

The Groves have not lost hope, they believe their daughter will come home soon.

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