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Detectives looking for help before cold case grows colder

Art Goebel was murdered in the summer of 2017. Friends and police ask for your help.
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 9:28 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Awakened in the middle of the night and murdered in his home, Wichita police turn to Factfinder 12 and to the community to help solve the 2017 cold case homicide of Art Goebel.

When friends remember Art Goebel, they remember a great man...albeit one of few words.

“I can remember the first conversation I had with art after church service passed,” Art’s friend Matthew Hudson recalled. “I said, ‘Okay, did you enjoy the word?’ and he said, ‘Yes.’ And that was it.”

Hudson met Art when he first came to the Wichita church where Hudson is the pastor. Before long, one word conversations turned into a friendship. Hudson uses the term “best friends” to describe their relationship and the term “True blue” to describe Art Goebel.

“You don’t have very many of those,” Hudson explained. “And when they come along, they don’t come along that often. And so you treasure that.”

Hudson says he had visions of growing old and enjoying retirement with his friend, but that was not to be. Just after 2:00 A.M. on July 16th, 2017 - Art Goebel and his wife were asleep when someone kicked open the front door. According to Detective Tim Relph, with the Wichita Police Department, just moments later Art was struggling to survive.

“Tt happened so fast. It was in the middle of night,” Det. Relph said. “Art’s main thing was for her (his wife) to get to safety...shots came very fast.”

The intruder fired two shots, both of which struck Art.

“He died at the hospital pretty quickly. He was not able to make a statement,” Relph added.

That, save a few key details that investigators say only the killer will know, is about all that is known about Art Goebel’s case. He and his wife were awakened in the middle of the night by a man kicking open their door. It was dark. It was terrifying. Art’s wife was in the room when he was killed, but could provide little to point detectives to his murderer.

And, while there’s not much known about the murder itself, there is plenty known about Art. Unfortunately, that makes the investigation even more difficult because what is known about Art Goebel shows there is virtually no reason imaginable anyone would want him dead.

“The thing that’s very difficult about this case is Arthur certainly has no enemies. He was, by all accounts, an exceptional man,” Detective Relph said.

Art Goebel was active in his church, he was a Vietnam veteran with a large loving family. He had a wife, children, grandchildren. He was rich in every way except that that might make him a target for robbery, which Detective Relph doesn’t believe is a motive.

“It doesn’t, didn’t make a lot of sense. He certainly, while he had his treasures in life as far as children and stuff like that, he certainly wasn’t a wealthy man by any stretch,” Relph explained. “So it’s not clear why this was this trailer was targeted.”

If that’s confounding for detectives, it’s even more so for those who loved Art.

“They said that, you know, an accident has happened that we needed to come down and see the family,” Hudson said. “Then we found out that he had been killed in his house.”

As his pastor, it fell to Hudson to help console Art’s family, but as his friend, he says he found it nearly impossible.

“I don’t even know how to console, even as a minister for 42 years. I don’t know what to say or how can you explain this,” Hudson said through tears. “We were so set back by it. Just the trauma of it. Knowing that one of your best friends has just been murdered. Didn’t know how to respond. I was so torn up by it.”

Investigators say leads were followed, but dried up. Now, almost four years later, both the “who” and the “why” remain a mystery.

“It doesn’t make sense” Relph said. “You know, you can’t find a reason...I’ve often said you give me the ‘why’ and I’ll catch somebody. You give me the ‘who’ and it’s going to be a lot harder.”

The “who” that friends like Matthew Hudson are most concerned with right now are those that may be have information that may help bring Justice to Art Goebel’s senseless murder.

“We’re pleading for it. If you know anything, anything would help. But the silence is deafening at this point and we need to have this thing resolved,” Hudson said.

The murder occurred just before 2:30 A.M. on July 16, 2017 at the Lamplighter Mobile Home park in Wichita. The suspect is medium build and olive skinned. Anyone who remembers that night or might know something that can help catch this killer is asked to call police at 316-267-2111. Callers can remain anonymous.

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