Monday, July 31, 2017

Mystery Monday: Johnny Gosch

It's Monday, which means it's time for another...



At one time, newspaper delivery was a booming business. It was the perfect job for a pre-teen who couldn't yet get a traditional job. In some communities, these children would even roam neighborhoods on foot, pulling newspapers around in a wagon or cart.



For 12-year-old Johnny Gosch, that newspaper route was in his hometown of West Des Moines, Iowa. His father normally helped him with his route on Sundays but on the morning of September 5, 1982 at around 5:45 a.m., Johnny headed out alone with the family dachshund.



Witnesses reported seeing Johnny, as well as two or three other carriers, in the early morning hours. One witness said he saw a man in a blue Ford Fairmont talking to Johnny. When Johnny turned to ask if someone could come "help this guy," the guy in the car took off at top speed.


Police drawing of man in the car. Image source: Who Took Johnny?

According to the police report, a neighbor reported hearing a wagon behind his house just before Johnny was seen speaking to the man in the car. Soon after, two young newspaper carriers spotted Johnny and said hello. This was the last anyone saw of Johnny.




Around the same time, a neighbor reported hearing a car door open. He looked out his window and saw a Ford Fairmont in the same area where Johnny was last spotted. The car started up and took off at a high speed, rolling through a stop sign without stopping. Johnny's abandoned wagon, filled with newspapers, was on the sidewalk. Johnny was nowhere to be found


Johnny's wagon. Image source: Who Took Johnny?

From the start, police failed to take the case seriously. They dismissed it as a runaway, despite the strange witness reports. Some say the naïveté of the time made it difficult to consider that someone might take a child off the street.



Over the years, many theories have emerged, mostly falling under the heading of "sex trafficking." The primary reason for this theory is the large number of young boys who disappeared from that general area around that time. This includes Eugene Martin, a Des Moines newspaper delivery boy who disappeared in 1984.



Johnny's mom has become an interesting character in the case over the years. She's convinced he's still alive and claims that in 1997, he visited her at her home and informed her he was afraid for his life before disappearing again. Many have expressed skepticism that this visit ever happened.



Do you believe Johnny Gosch is still alive?


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24 comments:

  1. Sadly, I don't think he's alive. Sex trafficking of boys? Now that is really, really sick.

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    1. Yeah, if someone really wants to dive into it, there's a whole thing about that involving George Bush Sr. They lose me when they get into all that nonsense. Just not my area of interest, hearing about that stuff.

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  2. It's not likely. Poor little guy.

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    1. Yeah, I think all the stuff about him still being alive is just wishful thinking, sadly.

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  3. Now this is a really sad one.

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    1. It is! If any of you have Netflix, "Who Took Johnny?" is the best documentary you can find on all this. There's a lot about the sex trafficking theories on there for people who want to really dive into that. It's all just theories, so I chose not to go down that rabbit hole here!

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  4. I don't think he is alive. This man was hell bent on getting this kid and must have somehow forced him to get into the van by pulling a gun or threatening. I think his mom has wishful thinking on her side and has to cope with her child being gone...how does a mother cope? If it is trafficking, I still think he would be dead because that life would be tough as hell.

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  5. I saw info about this on a TV show or somewhere. The mother seems a bit off and didn't tell the police her son came to visit her until later on some time, as I recall. Pretty obvious the boy was abducted by the guy in the car. Police weren't on the ball about that stuff and no reports were spread and connected when kids were taken, either. I sure do remember when we didn't think things like that ever happened.

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  6. That's heartbreaking that the police ignored this.

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  7. That is so sad and frightening. I definitely believe he was taken by force - either physical or mental (some people are frighteningly good and manipulating others). I don't know if he could have visited or why he would have and not stayed unless the man threatened his family somehow. The 1980s was not as innocent as those police seemed to think - I had a guy try to get me into his car once with candy. I yelled at him and ran, ran, ran hard and was terrified for weeks afterwards. I identified him in a grocery store and my mom contacted the police but no one believed us - he was a recent graduate from the high school and a popular football player in town. The criminals that do these kinds of things are not always the "creepy" guy and they've been predators for most of their lives, not just as adults.

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  8. That's a terribly sad story and you're right about it being a more naive time. Still, the police should have taken it more seriously. Paper delivery was my first job in the mid-90s, and I was out alone on the streets every morning from 13 to 17. Never considered that I might be in danger and nor did my parents.

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  9. That's a sad story, especially since the police didn't take it seriously.

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  10. I remember seeing papers delivered this way on Leave It To Beaver. I can't believe the authorities were so lax as to not take it seriously, when there were clearly witnesses to see what was going on. I don't think he's alive either, and it's so sad.

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  11. It's never good when someone disappears like that, but it's even worse when it's a kid. Poor boy.

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  12. He would have surfaced by now. His poor mother. So very sad for her.

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  13. His poor mom. I recently watched the TV series, The Family. About a young kid kidnapped and kept for some years and when he gets back.

    Its sad when kids are napped. No closure for the mom and the family. Sad.

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  14. Such a cute little guy. Nothings worse than victimizing the defenseless.

    Hope your day has been productive and pleasant.

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  15. I think it's highly unlikely he's still alive, after so many years. It's a shame that the police did not try harder to solve the case. Children need to be protected, but sometimes it doesn't happen.

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  16. I can't believe the case wasn't taken seriously at first. That's awful.

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  17. This is heart-breaking. Back then, I suppose letting your child walk alone at 5:45 am, with the family dog, wasn't a big deal. I'd never do it.

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  18. Hi Steph - I don't think he's alive ... looks like the guy nabbed him and killed him for whatever reason - there seem to be a few people who are depraved enough to do that sort of thing. I wonder what happened to the dog - so sad ... Hilary

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  19. I feel so sorry for the family of these missing kids. My heart goes out to them. The dachshund, where is it? Also, whether the mom was saying the truth or not is a sad story. Nobody deserves to live the way these families have; no peace and always hoping, always missing a family member.

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  20. Sex trafficking of boys? Sick!!! I don't think he is still alive! So sad!

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  21. Nope.
    I admire the missing people in milk boxes.
    I think it must be a real disturbing reality check during breakfast time.

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