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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

30 Years After Johnny Gosch Vanished, Iowa’s Innocence Abducted

High-profile cases like Johnny Gosch’s and the disappearance of two girls from Black Hawk County this summer increase anxiety in the heartland. By Beth Dalbey
Mother, Noreen Gosch, continues the search for Johnny Gosch 30 years after his vanishing.

During her 30-year search for her son, Noreen Gosch has been called confrontational, emotional and delusional, all harsh words for a woman living through every parent’s nightmare – the disappearance and possible abduction of a child.

Gosch has deflected it, singularly focused on bringing her boy home.

“Your child is the true victim,” Gosch told Patch recently. “You have been left with a terrible heartache, but if you always think of the child, you can’t allow yourself to be the victim.”

Thirty years after Johnny’s disappearance – on Sept. 5, 1982 – nobody knows for certain what happened to the mop-haired kid who started his day delivering the Des Moines Sunday Register and then, suddenly, was nowhere to be found.

But this much is certain: When Johnny Gosch vanished, Iowa’s innocence was abducted. It changed everything.

The Gosch case illustrates a national problem, where some 2,185 kids are reported missing each day. Of the 5,354 people reported missing in Iowa in 2011, 4,593 of them were juveniles, according to an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation report.

While many are runaways, nearly half of missing Iowa juveniles in 2011 were classified as either “endangered,” meaning their physical safety may be in danger, or as “involuntary,” meaning they had been abducted by a non-family member.

While the number of missing children hasn’t measurably increased over the years, awareness has exploded. Images of distraught families and steely mothers like Gosch warning parents that children aren’t safe, even in the Heartland, bounce around the airwaves.

Jim Rothstein, a retired New York City police detective who has spent decades investigating missing kids, human trafficking and pedophilia, says children are easy prey in rural America, where an illusion of safety still exists.

Kids have been reported missing from every corner of the state, with no town, big or small, immune from the danger.

To Read the rest of this story on the WestDesMoines.Patch.Com, please click here. 


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