Real Life Ministries mourn as police confirm Pastor Gene Jacobs died of ‘self-inflicted gunshot wound’

Pastor Gene Jacobs of Real Life Ministries Silver Valley, who was found dead in a mountainous area south of Pinehurst, Idaho, on Tuesday evening, died from an apparent “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” local police said as his church continues to mourn their loss.

“This is a huge loss to our congregation. We are doing our best to be the church that Jesus has called us to be. That means ministering to the needs of our congregation and the community. This is also a very difficult time for the Jacobs family. Your grace in giving them time and space to heal is appreciated,” Real Life Ministries Silver Valley said in a statement on Facebook Wednesday.

While the church noted that an investigation into the pastor’s passing was ongoing, a statement released by the Pinehurst Police Department late Wednesday evening made it clear that investigators had “no reason to suspect foul play” in the pastor’s death.

When the elders tried calling the pastor at home after the meeting, his wife told them that he had left home on foot earlier. Police say video footage from a neighbor’s security camera shows Jacobs leaving home around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“He was on foot, which was normal. A canvas of residential doorbell cameras and businesses with cameras was conducted along his normal route to church and beyond. There was no other video footage of Pastor Gene after he left home, and the video did not indicate a direction of travel other than north from his residence,” investigators said.

Richter then requested help from Shoshone County Sheriff Holly Lindsey to find the pastor. They tried to review cell phone data to locate Jacobs, but the pastor’s phone company suggested that he might have turned off the telephone. Potential threats suggesting the possibility of an abduction were also reviewed but that was abandoned as investigators found his water bottle along a trail he was known to frequent.

About 40 people with the Shoshone County Sheriff's Office and Pinehurst Police searched for Jacobs on foot, dirt bikes and by air.

“It was at approximately 6 p.m. that Two Bear Air located Pastor Gene in a location off the trail and unsearched by teams on foot due to the remote, steep, and wooded location. All foot teams were called down off the mountain at that time,” investigators said. “A recovery team responded to the location and found Pastor Gene deceased. His body was safely removed from the location and turned over to the Shoshone County Coroner and Shoshone Funeral Home.”

Jacobs served as the lead pastor and an elder at Real Life Ministries Silver Valley since the church was planted in 2007, according to the church website. A native of Western Washington, Jacobs also served in the U.S. Navy and attended Boise Bible College. He was married with two adult children. 

Real Life Ministries Silver Valley, which is part of the multi-campus Real Life Ministries megachurch led by founder and senior pastor Jim Putman, said they will be offering grief counseling services for individuals affected by the pastor’s passing.

“We will not have our normal service on Thursday evening but will offer an opportunity to pray, grieve and work with from 6 to 8PM,” the church said. “Sunday services will be at 9 and 11 AM but will be facilitated by our brothers and sisters from Real Life Ministries in Post Falls.”