Missing Person Monday: Johnny Gosch

John David Gosch, an American 12 year old boy, vanished in the early morning hours of September 5th, 1982.

Noreen and John Leonard Gosch at a meeting for the Johnny Gosch Foundation. Source: IowaColdCases.org

Missing for 37 years, John David Gosch is perhaps one of the most infamous missing child cases in US history. John vanished without a trace from Des Moines, Iowa on September 5th, 1982 and to date, no one has ever been charged with his disappearance. John’s parents, Noreen and John Leonard Gosch, devastated by the events and looking for help, went on to co-found the National Center for Missing and Exploited children along with the parents of Adam Walsh and Etan Patz.


Unlike today, the 1980’s were quite literally a different time. Filled with a certain naivete`, people left their doors unlocked, let their children play outside unsupervised, and allowed kids freedom’s considered neglect today. The term pedophile was virtually nonexistent and the thought of a person simply taking innocent children to be used by others wasn’t even a concept for many people. The abduction of Johnny Gosch forcefully opened the eyes of many people that human trafficking exists, is abhorrent, and is prevalent today.

That fateful morning of September 5th, 1982 began just as any other. At 5:45, Johnny woke up, grabbed his miniature dachshund, Gretchen, his bright red wagon, and set off to deliver his papers. Normally, John’s father would accompany him on his paper route, but this did not happen on September 5th. About an hour after John leaves, his mother is awoken by an angry telephone call, with a neighbor complaining as to why they had not received their newspaper. Immediately concerned, John leaves the house to go investigate and finds Johnny’s wagon approximately two blocks away; the wagon filled with newspapers, and Gretchen right there. Gosch immediately went back home to inform Noreen, and they called the police. According to Noreen, it would take forty-five minutes for them to arrive despite the station being less than ten blocks away.


The Witnesses


According to reports, multiple witnesses could account to seeing Johnny that morning:

A witness, John Rossi and another paperboy, who was picking up his papers, saw Johnny walking to the newspaper pick up spot when a blue car, suddenly stopped and reversed towards Johnny. The man said something but left.

Rossi, recalls after that seeing Johnny with his wagon, his dog, and other paper boys as well as that blue car again on 42nd street with a man inside whom Rossi says was speaking to Johnny. Rossi indicates that Johnny motions him over so he could come help the man with directions and the car immediately makes a U-turn and speeds off. Rossi and the paperboy indicate it was the same blue car from earlier.

Some paperboys recall hearing Johnny say that the man “had scared” him.


Rossi also said that as Johnny later set off to deliver his papers, he could recall seeing a tall man come out from between two houses and began to follow Johnny.

Two other paperboys see Johnny from across the street and say hello but go on their separate ways, this is the last known place where Johnny was seen.

Source: IowaColdCases.org
Composite of Suspect, Source: IowaColdCases.org


At about this same time a man named P.J Smith was awoken by a loud car door. He stood up in bed and observed a black silver car make a left turn and roll through the stop sign. This is also around the area where Johnny was last seen.

According to Noreen, instead of treating the case as an abduction, the police believed from the start that Johnny Gosch was a runaway, thereby hindering the investigation process.

Captain Bob Rushing of the West Des Moines Police Department, the man in charge of the investigation, stated: “There was no crime scene. Nobody saw anything that, to us, was an explanation to the boys disappearance. He just vanished.’

Since the initial disappearance, some details have come to light that corroborate Johnny’s fate as an abduction:

In 1990, a man named Paul Bonacci came forward stating that he helped kidnap Johnny Gosch because he himself was a victim of the Franklin Nebraska sex trafficking ring. According to Noreen Gosch, Paul Bonacci knew things that had not been released to the public, such as physical characteristics of Johnny, and aspects of Johnny’s life only the Gosch’s would know.

Despite this, investigators never interviewed Paul Bonacci. It is widely believed that Johnny Gosch was abducted for the sole purpose of being traded in a child sex trafficking ring.

Source: Iowacoldcases.org
Johnny & Eugene on the milk carton, Source: IowaColdCases.org

John David Gosch did NOT runaway.


Save Our Children


Another Paperboy from the Des Moines area named, Eugene Martin, who was about the same age as Johnny, went missing two years after Johnny in virtually the same way; while delivering his papers. Despite the obvious connection, the Des Moines Police Department deny there is a connection between the two cases. Like Johnny, Eugene Martin has not been seen since.


Human trafficking exists, is widespread, and has caused immeasurable pain. It’s time to put an end to child suffering and we CAN’T let these children be forgotten. We are vigilant and we WILL Find Johnny Gosch.


Next Monday, we’ll take a look at The Disappearance of Eugene Martin.

#SaveOurChildren #EndHumanTrafficking #WhereisJohnnyGosch


More Information about Johnny Gosch can be found at www.johnnygosch.com

http://charleyproject.org/case/john-david-gosch

Johnny Gosch Documentary: Who Took Johnny (2016)

For a more in depth account, more information, and theories, visit cavdef.org/johnnygosch

Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Murders & Coffee strives to bring awareness of the unsolved cold cases that have consumed our nation. With the creation of #MissingPersonMonday, I have made it my mission to not let these faces be forgotten

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