I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped during the past 30 years:
The thousands of people came out and searched in the first few days after the kidnapping; the people brought food, comfort and kindness to our family; all of the volunteers who joined the Johnny Gosch Foundation, helping with every event which was planned to keep the case alive and promote awareness for the safety of all children; and the many thousands of people who have never stopped praying for my son and for my strength to continue.
It has been a long struggle and I could not have done it without all of you. My sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone.
Soon after Johnny was kidnapped, a woman called me, she had lost her daughter to kidnapping and murder a few years prior. She told me to save her name and number and to feel free to call her if I needed her.
It wasn't long before I did need to call her, it was late at night and the pain was so intense, I just needed to talk with someone who had been through the same horror. She and I talked for hours through the night, she told me some of the things that would happen going forward, with suggestions for surviving it long term.
At the end of our conversation, I said "how can I ever thank you for spending this time with me?" She replied, "You do the same for someone else ... you pay it forward to help others."
Following the kidnapping of Johnny, we had an opportunity to spread awareness of these crimes against children, promote changes in policies and procedures through new legislation.
The first law passed was the Johnny Gosch Law, which for the first time ensured an immediate investigation for a missing child. In the past, authorities had the option to wait up to 72 hours to begin an investigation. I always thought that was odd because no police department would wait 72 hours to investigate a bank robbery; they would be on it immediately.
So, why wait that long when a child is kidnapped?
The Johnny Gosch Law was also adopted and passed into law in several other states. Iowa was the third state to pass such a law. It was a struggle as some legislators did not feel we needed new legislation, that Johnny's case was a "one-time deal."
The Johnny Gosch Law was signed by Gov. Terry Branstad on July 1st, 1984, and sadly one month later, Eugene Martin was kidnapped. The Martins were the first family to use the new legislation. I felt proud that the efforts made by the Johnny Gosch Foundation provided help for another family going through the heartache of losing their child to kidnapping.
Each time the Johnny Gosch Law was used to help families in Iowa and the other states where it was passed it was a legacy left by Johnny for others.
The very thought that pedophiles feel they have the right to take someone's child is foreign to most all of us. Do we think it could happen to us, in our neighborhood or city? No, most of us have heard about crimes against children but they have happened somewhere else and to someone else. I thought that, too, when I would read about cases in another state.
Then on Sept. 5th, 1982, the unthinkable happened, someone came into our quiet, peaceful neighborhood and kidnapped my son as he was preparing to deliver his Sunday morning newspapers. He was so proud of his paper route, delivered good service to his customers and earned "perfect service awards for each of the 13 months he had the paper route.
He thought of himself as a young businessman. A paper route was something a younger child could do back in the day to begin to learn the work ethic.
After Johnny was kidnapped, that American ideal ceased to exist in our area. Newspaper carriers quit for their own safety. An early morning paper route made the children "easy prey" for a pedophile out trolling for his next victim. We quickly learned of the different types of pedophiles.
A poor pedophile must take the risk of being caught by kidnapping his own victim. What does a rich pedophile do? Would he risk being caught by kidnapping his own victim? No, he will pay someone, which creates "supply and demand." This is how "human trafficking" was developed.
The "garden variety" pedophile, planted in our towns and cities, living among us, is going about their daily life, but also molesting children, bribing them to keep quiet or sometimes killing them. But this type usually operates "alone." They select either a male or female victim and an age bracket they desire. No one knows their secret.
"If ever we need to be vigilant, it is now. There have been so many abduction attempts in the past couple months, experts feel we have been targeted by human traffickers."
The "organized group" pedophiles. These men are particularly dangerous, as "kidnapping children" is their job description. They prey on all ages of children male and female. They are paid to kidnap children for use in prostitution and pornography. They in turn sell the children to be used by a pedophile of financial means. A human life means nothing to them, they are ruthless and see dollar signs when they look at a child. There is an old saying "follow the money.” In the case of human trafficking, that is true.
Human trafficking is alive and operative in every state in the country. Some still feel it could not happen here, that is a dangerous opinion.
If ever we need to be vigilant, it is now. There have been so many abduction attempts in the past couple months, experts feel we have been targeted by human traffickers. I agree with their findings and opinion concerning the abduction attempts recently.
Some feel they do not want to scare their children but I can tell all parents from experience. It would be better to have the children alert to the problem than to have them kidnapped. No one really wants to walk in my shoes for even an hour, let alone 30 years.
I vowed when Johnny was kidnapped that this would not be recorded just as another tragedy; that his kidnapping would stand for positive change in our system, policies and procedures; that there would be a new level of awareness to all families to this problem, so as to better protect our children.
Iowa does have a "kidnapping problem.”
Again, my sincere thanks to all of the faithful supporters for Johnny and our family during the past 30 years.
– Noreen N. Gosch (Johnny's Mom)