One of the most recognizable cases of a missing person, sadly, in modern times involves a paperboy who disappeared in the early morning hours of Sept. 5, 1982, in West Des Moines.

He left home to begin his paper route when he vanished.

John David Gosch, who was born Nov. 12, 1969, would be 52 now.

No one has been arrested in connection with the presumed kidnapping in this cold case that has received national publicity.

Johnny’s picture was the second to be featured on milk cartons in a campaign to find missing children.

The morning of the disappearance

Johnny was last seen by multiple witnesses at the paper drop, picking up his newspapers. Another paperboy said he saw Johnny talking with a  stocky man in a blue two-toned car near the paper drop. Yet another witness says Johnny told him the man was asking for directions and that a man was following Johnny,

Poster featuring Johnny Gosch and Eugene Martin.

John and Noreen Gosch began to receive phone calls from customers about papers that hadn’t been delivered. John found Johnny’s wagon with newspapers two block from their home.

In March 1983, a woman in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said Johnny ran up to her. He was being chased by two men. “Please, lady, help me!” he said. “My name is John David Gosch.”

The two men dragged by boy away.

In 1984, Eugene Martin, another Des Moines-area paperboy, vanished while he was delivering papers. That case remains cold, too.

Johnny Gosch, age-progressed (the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

His mother, Noreen Gosch, has said he visited her in 1997 and told her he had been a victim of a pedophile ring – that he lived under an assumed identity because he did not think it was safe to come home.

Noreen Gosch lobbied for “The Johnny Gosch Bill,” state legislation that mandated an immediate police response to reports of missing children. It became law in Iowa in 1984, and similar laws were passed in Missouri and other states.

If you have any information to share involving Johnny Gosch’s disappearance, please call any law enforcement agency and mention his name.