This post was originally published in 2012.
DES MOINES, Iowa — On Sept. 5, 1982, Johnny Gosch, 12, was kidnapped while delivering the local Sunday newspaper. Johnny’s father, John Gosch, Sr., would generally accompany him on his route. However, on this day, only Johnny’s dachshund, Gretchen, was with him. The night before, Johnny asked his parents if he could go on the route alone. They told him no. However, the following day, Johnny left home alone without his father.
At 7:00 a.m., John and Noreen Gosch began receiving telephone calls from people who had yet to receive their morning papers. Gosch then went looking for his son. He found Johnny’s wagon full of newspapers two blocks from their home, but no sign of Johnny.
The worried parents immediately called the police. They were forced to wait 72 hours before they could file a missing person’s report. Noreen Gosch maintains to this day that the police were slow in investigating her son’s disappearance.
Witnesses reportedly saw Johnny talking to a man at 42nd Street and Marcourt Lane. The man was driving a blue two-tone Ford Fairmont with Nebraska license plates, and Johnny appeared to be giving the man directions.
Some sources state that after Johnny walked away, two men forced him into the Ford Fairmont, where he was held down in the backseat as the car sped away.
There were only other sightings of Johnny a few months later.
In March 1983, a 12-year-old boy matching Johnny’s description approached a woman leaving a store in Oklahoma. The boy said to her, “I’m John David Gosch. Please help me.” Two men came to the boy and led him away. The woman later reported the incident to police in October 1983 after seeing Johnny’s picture during the NBC Movie “Adam” about the disappearance of Adam Walsh. She immediately called the authorities. According to “America’s Most Wanted, “the FBI later confirmed that they believe it was Johnny Gosch.”
One month later, Noreen Gosch received a phone call. The caller was a boy who said, “Please help me. Please help me. I can’t get away.” Noreen Gosch asked if the boy was okay, and he said he was, although his speech was slurred.
“Where are you?” she asked, but the caller hung up.
Johnny’s mother believed it was her son. Unfortunately, police could not trace the call, and the lead slipped through their fingers. West Des Moines Police did not believe the calls were legitimate. However, Noreen Gosch insisted the caller was her son, but even her husband doubted her.
In 1984, Johnny’s photograph appeared alongside Juanita Estevez, 16, on milk cartons across America. Estevez disappeared while going to school. They were the first two abducted children to have their cases publicized in this manner. Estevez escaped from her captors in 1986.
On Aug. 12, 1984, another boy was abducted while delivering the Des Moines Register, the same newspaper Johnny delivered the day he vanished. Eugene Martin, 13, has never been found. Like Johnny, Eugene usually did not go on the route alone; his stepbrother accompanied him. But on this day, it was just him. Noreen Gosch believes the two disappearances are connected.
Two years later, Marc Allen, also 13, vanished on March 29, 1986, from the same general area as Johnny and Eugene, but police do not believe the three cases are related.
In 1989, Paul Bonacci, a young sex offender imprisoned in Nebraska, came forward and told attorney John DeCamp that he was in a pedophile ring with Johnny as a teenager and coerced to participate in Johnny’s abduction. Bonacci mentioned several people involved, including law enforcement officials, politicians, and business owners.
In 1992, “America’s Most Wanted” aired a segment featuring Johnny’s case. With Paul Bonacci’s help, an artist drew several composites of the people involved in Johnny’s kidnapping. The FBI made several failed attempts to keep the show from being aired.
After AMW aired the episode, Noreen Gosch allegedly received a 14-page letter from a guy named “Jimmy,” who gave detailed information about Johnny.
In March 1997, Johnny’s mother claimed she received a visit from her son, and he allegedly told her what had happened to him. He had been abducted into a pedophile ring and forced out when considered too old. However, Johnny could never come home because he knew too much about this ring and feared for his life. Police have never confirmed Noreen Gosch’s story, and Gosch has always been skeptical of his wife’s version of events.
Noreen published a book in 2000 titled “Why Johnny Can’t Come Home.”
In 2006, she began receiving several pictures allegedly of Johnny bound and gagged, evidence that he had been kidnapped. She posted them on her website dedicated to finding Johnny.
Noreen Gosch has endured many threats against her life through the years, yet she remains strong and convinced that this ring abducted Johnny.
She also believes that former CIA agent Michael Aquino purchased Johnny for $35,000 from a South Dakota farm and took him to Colorado. There, Johnny began a torture, mind control, and prostitution program.
Around 2005, there was speculation that former escort and White House reporter, Jeff Gannon, was Johnny. However, sources say Gannon was older than Johnny.
In July 2008, Noreen released information about a second man named Tony, who helped kidnap Johnny. Two composite sketches were made of the abductor’s appearance in 1982 and 10 years later. The suspect is the same man in the composite sketch in the Michaela Garecht case.
Noreen Gosch established the Johnny Gosch Foundation in 1982, shortly after her son went missing. Eventually, it had a website where Noreen Gosh posted information regarding her son’s case, including all the pictures she received. However, it appears to no longer be in operation. The website URL www.johnnygosch.com now leads to a different website altogether.