Breaking News
More () »

'People were so surprised we got him back' | Family describes son's experience in presumed TX cult

A Central Texas family is warning the public about a church in East Texas many consider to be a religious cult after their son disappeared from downtown Austin on Halloween in 2016 and turned up at the church's compound five days later. Now, that young man is sharing with KVUE what he experienced there.

A Central Texas family is warning the public after their first-hand experience with what many consider to be a religious cult.

The Church of Wells in East Texas has made national headlines for their beliefs and issues with their members over the years.

RELATED | Family fears son was targeted by cult in Downtown Austin

But in 2016, a Georgetown family reported their son missing after he went to Downtown Austin on Halloween night to preach the Bible and never returned home.

Initially, the family was concerned their son had been carjacked - or worse. But after several days of worrying, they were able to contact their then 27-year-old son, Jordan Reichenberger.

Jordan let them know he had left downtown Austin with some of the elder members of the Church of Wells and had driven with them to their compound in East Texas.

"He said 'we're following Jesus, do you want to go with us?' And I said 'sure',” Jordan explained about that Halloween night.

Jordan stayed at the compound for five days. On the fifth day, his brother, dad, and several of their friends came to Wells, Texas to bring him home.

Jordan's brother, Ian, said they spoke with people who had experience with the Church of Wells before driving to get him.

"When families show up angry like ‘hey give us our person back, give us our kid back’, the cult would be like ‘oh look how angry your family is.’ So, that's why we went with friendship, love” explained Ian.

After several hours of somewhat heated discussion with church elders, Jordan was allowed to leave.

"People were so surprised we got him back. They're like 'you seriously got him out of there?',” said Ian.

Not everyone has been so lucky.

"We have information from law enforcement that she had made numerous escape attempts,” said Andy Grove.

Andy and Patty Grove's daughter, Catherine, made national headlines when she joined Church of Wells nearly six years ago. She's still presumed to be there.

"I honestly believe that my daughter was drugged at the beginning and there's some reason why she decided to escape four times and she's asked to go to a women's shelter twice,” said Patty in tears as KVUE asked where things stand with Catherine.

The Groves have not heard from their daughter in over a year.

Drug tests Jordan took when he returned home showed signs of sleeping pills and muscle relaxers in his system.

Jordan mother, Kim, noticed he was acting unusual when he returned home, too.

"At one point, his eyes rolled back in his head and we're just like 'what is going on here?',” said Kim.

Jordan said he felt odd while he was at the church.

"Mostly just kind of like a haze,” he explained.

Jordan said he would never take those pills voluntarily and all his food and drinks those five days in East Texas were provided by the church.

"Abhorrent. It's a real shame that people can be doing that kind of stuff in the name of God,” said Jordan.

Jordan and his family have alerted authorities about the results of the drug test.

Now, Jordan's hoping to warn others while Catherine's parents hold out hope that their daughter - and a grandson they've never met - return home.

The pastor of the Church of Wells sent KVUE this YouTube response several weeks later in response to a request for comment on the allegations:

Before You Leave, Check This Out