The Disappearance of Johnny Gosch
In West Des Moines, Iowa, a 12-year-old boy went missing on a pleasant September morning in 1982. John Gosch was his name. What happened that day was the start of a long nightmare for Johnny’s mother, Noreen Gosch. Out of grief and desperation, she made it her mission to find out what really happened when her son was abducted.
A Parent’s Worst Nightmare
On September 5, 1982, Johnny was taken while he was delivering the Des Moines Register in West Des Moines, Iowa. People who saw the kidnapping say that a man stopped and asked Johnny where he was going. Johnny told another paper boy that he was scared by what happened.
Then, two men followed Johnny until he was out of sight. When he was out of sight, they grabbed him and put him in the back of an old Fairmont. People who were nearby heard and saw the car’s screeching tyres as it sped away.
No one told anyone else about the strange thing right away. When Johnny’s parents didn’t get their newspapers, they didn’t know anything was wrong until they got a phone call about it. When Johnny’s dad found newspapers in his son’s waggon, he told Noreen right away, and they called the police.
Here is where the story starts to get weird and annoying. Even though the car was making a lot of noise and the man asking for directions was acting strangely, the police took a long time to show up. Police didn’t think it was a kidnapping because there was no note or demand for money. They decided to wait 72 hours before searching.
But Noreen Gosch was a strong person who couldn’t be ignored. She thought the police weren’t doing enough, so she called friends and acquaintances right away to set up a search party. What started out as a peaceful morning for a blended family turned into a nightmare that continues to this day.
Noreen Gosch Conducts Her Own Investigation
As the days and weeks went by, Noreen realised that neither the local police nor the FBI would be able to help her. She asked local and national news outlets to cover the story, and soon it was being talked about all over the country. She also hired a private investigator to follow up on clues that law enforcement never did.
Noreen on a Mission
She came to think that her son had not been killed, but had been taken away to be used in a worldwide paedophilia and pornography ring. She thought that he was being kept alive and put through satanic/sexual trauma and torture to break down his sense of self and make him easy to brainwash. Why? So he would be a “slave” to the same cult that took him away.
Most case analysts say there wasn’t much evidence to back up this story, but a string of events and stories convinced Noreen that it was true.
Law enforcement officials are still not sure about what Noreen says. During the 1980s “satanic panic,” there was a lot of talk about conspiracy theories that were similar to many of her occult abduction claims.
About six months after Johnny was taken, a woman said a young boy ran up to her in the parking lot of an Oklahoma convenience store screaming, “I’m Johnny Gosch, I’ve been taken!” He was grabbed by two men right away, and they were never seen again.
Over the next few years, more proof came to light. The following message was written on a dollar bill and given to the Goschs “I am alive. Johnny Gosch.” Noreen said that Johnny had written this. In Denver, Colorado, another clue turned up. In the bathroom of a public restaurant, the words “Johnny Gosch was here” were written on the wall with red nail polish.
Noreen had a feeling that her son was still alive. She would never stop trying to get the truth out about why he was taken.
Other Victims Come Forward
Noreen thought that the group that took Johnny and used him for sex trafficking had direct ties to “higher ups” like the CIA, the military, and politicians in Washington DC.
Noreen was able to meet with these victims, who said they had been with Johnny and knew him personally, over the years with the help of the media, friends, and private investigators. They could tell her the latest news about his health, but they didn’t know where he was. Noreen heard that Johnny and another boy had finally gotten away from their captors and were now hiding out because they were afraid for their lives.
Did Johnny Visit His Mother in 1997?
Noreen never stopped trying to find Johnny. She kept sending out press releases, making public appearances, and working to find missing children.
Through her efforts, Johnny and other children who had been taken were the first ones to have their pictures put on milk cartons in the hopes that someone would know where they were. Johnny Gosch is often thought of as the first “milk carton child.” Over the years, she got many leads, but none of them led her straight to Johnny.
A Knock at the Door
In 1997, Noreen was woken up early one morning by a knock on her door. This was not long after she had given Johnny a special message on TV. She looked through the hole and saw two young men. “Who is it?” she asked. Someone replied, “It’s me, Johnny, calling you. Can I come in?”
She opened the door right away and saw that it was her son, whom she hadn’t seen in 15 years. Their time together didn’t last long. Johnny didn’t come home to stay; he came to ask his mother for help. He told her briefly what had happened in the past few years. When Noreen finally confirmed what she’d known all along, the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together.
During their reunion, he was very nervous and told his mother that he was still in a lot of danger and that he needed her to help bring his kidnappers to justice so he wouldn’t have to live in fear for the rest of his life.
Johnny stayed with Noreen for only a few hours, then left before daylight, disappearing into the night to leave his mother with nothing but the secret memory of his visitation.
Did Noreen Really See Her Son?
Over the years, many people, including people in law enforcement, have questioned whether or not Noreen’s story is true. Some people think that a man really did come to her house, but he pretended to be Johnny. Others think that Noreen might have made up this story to help herself deal with the pain of losing her son.
In 2000, Noreen wrote a book called Why Johnny Can’t Come Home. It was a detailed account of what she thought happened and why she thought Johnny couldn’t come home. There were shocking claims in the book about child pedophile rings and elite cults that tried to change people’s minds.
Noreen Receives Shocking Photos in the Mail
On August 27, 2006, Noreen got an unmarked envelope with photos of three boys who looked like they had been kidnapped and gagged. This was another strange and disturbing turn in this case, which was the first of its kind.
Noreen thought that Johnny, one of the boys, was one of them. When police looked at these photos and did their own research, they came to the conclusion that this was not the case. Less than a month later, the West Des Moines Police Department got a letter from someone who said the boys were not who they said they were.
“Someone played a terrible joke on a mother who is sad. The picture in question is not of her son, but of three boys in Tampa, Florida, around 1979–1980, who were challenging each other to an escape contest. The Hillsborough County (FL) Sheriff’s Office did an investigation about that picture. No charges were brought, and nothing wrong was found. Zalva was the lead detective on the case. This claim shouldn’t be hard to check out.”
Nelson Zalva, an investigator who worked at the Florida State Attorney’s Office, added corroboration to this, telling authorities that the photos sent to Noreen were actually evidence from a different case that he investigated in the late 1970s.
The Fight for Justice
The Johnny Gosch Foundation was started by Noreen in 1982, not long after he went missing. The website says that the goal of the organisation is “to teach people how real and dangerous kidnapping and pornography are, and how they could happen to your family. How dangerous paedophiles can be and how sneakily they work in our country.”
Johnny’s story has been told on national radio and TV talk shows like America’s Most Wanted, Vanished, and Geraldo at Large.
The story of Johnny Gosch is still the most shocking and controversial story of a child being taken from its home in recent U.S. history.
Whether or not you believe everything Noreen says, she was a loving mother who went through unimaginable pain but never gave up on her son. As for Johnny, I hope he’s still out there somewhere, waiting for the long overdue justice.