The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on September 2, 1984 · Page 7
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 7

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Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 2, 1984
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Page 7
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DES MOINES SUNDAY REGISTER SEPTEMBER 2, 1984 7A FBI agent warns Martins of emotional roller coaster Continued from Page 6 A ally gives a good goddamn?" Betty Gipple, whose daughter now has Johnny Goscb's paper route, said: "People complained because INoreen) didn't show enough emotion. Now people like her because she didn't give up. They respect her." Fueling the continuing publicity is the tension between the Gosches and almost all of police officialdom. No FBI agents or local policemen will comment on the case except in broad generalities, but they have said the charges of police incompetence are exaggerated or untrue. Orval Cooney, the former West Des Moines police chief who initially handled the case, was tape-recorded without his knowledge by a TV crew. He said of the Gosches: "Yeah, I think they are ignorant. I think they are downright . . . stupid. Uh, but I'm not going to say that on tape, but you can tell them I said that." The Gosches respond in kind. No-reen refers to him as "a sawed-off stupid idiot." John Gosch says, "We drive by his house every now and then to let him know we are still alive." The Gosches' primary complaint is that police initially treated Johnny's disappearance as that of a runaway, despite a number of clues pointing to an abduction. Of the fast police reaction to Gene Martin's disappearance, Noreen says: "Now, all of a sudden, all of America is watching." ' Des Moines is on the analyst's couch, undergoing an examination by Dr. Donner Dewdney, a local child psychiatrist. "There is a quality to the Midwest," he says. "It's all Our Neighborhood. But the average kid isn't 'average' any more in Des Moines. Parents aren't 'average' either." Dewdney, a California-casual member of Child Psychiatry Associates, says the kidnappings reflect one of a child's deepest fears brought to life. And the resulting avalanche of warnings directed to children can hurt as well as help. "I'd say to my 12-year-old son, 'Listen, Meathead. This is what happened. I have confidence in you. This is scary and we need to talk about it,' Dewdney says. "But it's foolish to inundate 4- or 5-year-olds with all that They'd only get a funny, weird, scared feeling. When their whole lives are in the process of developing on trust, it's hard on them. "It is such a disconcerting thing to have happen. Kids around here hear over and over again, 'Don't talk to strangers. The enemy might be anywhere.' That kind of talk is bad for kids, and I'm against it. I am not going to help a child develop a notion of enemies." He adds: "In fact, many parents feel bad because it reminds them they aren't doing the job on a day-to-day basis. They both work and just don't have time for the kids. "Those 12-year-olds are saying, 'That could have been me.' They feel that they want to be independent, but underlying it now is the feeling that 'I'd better not leave home.' This scares a whole generation of 12-year-olds. It is screwing up a rite of passage." Dewdney also talks about a phenomenon that always astounds grieving parents: accusations directed at them. "People blame the Gosches," he says. "It's like getting angry at someone for getting cancer. You think to yourself, 'They must have done something.'" Although that is irrational, it is common. Anonymous callers have maligned Janice Martin's competence as a mother, and Noreen Gosch has been accused of killing her own son. "Everyone is wondering what will happen, even what will happen to The Register, from using the boy carriers," said Joan Lose, mother of eight and a clerk at the Hy-Vee Food Store on Fleur Drive. "I can't imagine any mother letting her boy go out on a route alone now." Like other newspapers, The Des Moines Register is a curious enterprise. About 800 full-time workers write it, edit it, sell ads for it and produce it. But whether it ever gets to its customers is up to 7,000 carriers, some boys and girls as young as 10. The system was satisfactory for generations. "Then all of a sudden in 1982 the Reward fund hits $11 1,000 Pledges to a reward fund for information leading to the whereabouts of missing newspaper carriers Eugene Wade Martin or Johnny Gosch now total $111,000. Pledges of $500 or more are being accepted by The Register's promotion department at (515) 284-8510. Cash contributions of any amount may be sent to a reward fund set up by the Iowa PTA. These should be sent to Valley National Bank, P.O. Box 906, Des Moines, la., 30304. Checks should be payable to the Iowa PTA Eugene Martin-John Gosch Reward Fund. Cash contributions for the search effort for Eugene Martin should be sent to Brenton National Bank of Des Moines, P.O. Box 891, Des Moines, la. 50304. Checks should be made payable to the Help Find Eugene Martin Fund. Cash contributions on behalf of the search for Johnny Gosch should go to the Help Find Johnny Gosch Fund, P.O. Box 228, Ankeny, la. 50021. rules of the game began to change," said John Miksich, who is in charge of The Register's distribution system. "You have one incident, then another incident. . . . Obviously it's going to weigh mightily on where we go from here." Miksich and seven other top executives of the newspaper are meeting every other day to keep up with developments on the disappearance of Eugene Martin, to find additional ways to ensure the safety of carriers, and to determine if some fundamental change needs to be made in the carrier system. "All questions are open appropriately," said Publisher Gary Gerlach. While Gerlach said he has received a handful of letters saying the job of a carrier is not safe for a young person, "Many adults view it as a very valuable experience for their kids." Gerlach and his wife have no children. But if they did, he said, "I would have no hesitancy in sending my own child out on any route in Des Moines with proper supervision and proper training." Although somewhere between 50 and 60 carriers quit because of Eugene Martin's disappearance, Gerlach said last winter's harsh weather caused more resignations. James Gannon, editor of The Register, said carrying newspapers is a "really American, traditional sort of a thing. So many people have done it as youths or have kids who do it or did it. It s kind of an introduction to the world of capitalism and work. There's a certain sort of Norman Rockwell Americana aspect to it all, It's the violation of that that makes people so angry." Soon after Eugene Martin disap peared, Don and Sue Martin, his father and stepmother, were warned by an FBI agent of the roller coaster ride ahead: Their hopes would soar and crash, soar and crash. Take last Monday. For the first time, the story of Gene's disappear ance itself disappears from The Reg ister, plunging the couple into despair. "It's been two weeks and you've already written him off," Sue Martin, 35, tells two Register reporters. But evening brings an upper. The Des Moines City Council has voted to kick in $25,000 to the reward fund for Gene and for Johnny Gosch. "We've got good news tonight," an excited Don Martin, 38, a wiry, much-tattooed man, exclaims. "This is going to make somebody pay attention. The Martins sit in a swing on their front porch, talking in staccato above the roar of jet airplanes at the Des Moines Municipal Airport a few blocks west of their modest, one-story house. Their lives have been turned upside down. Until Gene vanished, they never knew there were so many bad people and so many good people in the world. They are surprised at what they have learned about child pornography and children forced into prostitution. They are equally surprised at the outpour ing of help and support they have re ceived. The morning of Gene's disappearance, the street in front of their house filled with police cars "boom just like that," Don says. A neighbor across the street arranged for the immediate printing of a poster with Gene's picture and description, and the fliers were tacked up at the airport, in grocery stores and gas stations less than five hours after the disappearance. A Des Moines printer whose name they don't even know has provided thousands of additional posters. John and Noreen Gosch have been especially helpful. "They know what we're going through now," says Don. "They know what we're going to go through." The Martins lock their doors and windows as never before. Sue's 16-year-old son, who used to roam late at night, is now under orders to be in the house by 10 p.m. Don says: "When I get Gene home, no way he'll even walk up to the store without an armed guard. I do mean that a shotgun, a ball bat, whatever it takes." The Martins seem to be holding up under the strain pretty well. But, Don says, "There have been times I walk by Gene's bedroom and I just crack up." The leads that flooded police headquarters at first have dwindled to a trickle. Speaking of that roller coaster ride, Don frowns and says, "The hills are starting to get smaller already." Just before dawn, all is still on Johnny Gosch's former newspaper route. The silent condos and split-level houses, with bushes tucked protectively close, line curving streets and wide cul-de-sacs. The only movement is the drowsy realignment of clouds, slowly circling to the east around what is not yet a sunrise. Suburbia at rest Nine bundles of newspapers wait in the ivory glow of a street light on the corner of Forty-second Street and Francrest Circle. Truck 5625 has Gosch sighting called false alarm WINTERSET, IA. (AP) - Law officers in south-central Iowa thought Saturday afternoon that they had picked up the trail of missing West Des Moines newspaper carrier Johnny Gosch. But by early evening, Madison County sheriffs deputies were calling the reported sighting a false alarm. The search began about 2 p.m. after Winterset Police Chief Ken Billeter said a credible source told him she had seen Gosch in a Winterset grocery store and later in a blue car with Ohio license plates. Winterset authorities, all available state troopers and state conservation officers searched for the car. A patrol plane also was called in. dropped them off sometime in the night. Headlights glide up to the bundles. Ann Crowell is checking one of the 24 Register routes she is responsible for. Her job has changed drastically since Johnny's abduction on this street two years ago. The number of routes each district manager handles has been trimmed, so they drop by each one more often. She now carries an identification badge, always visible. There is a wariness that was not there before, more managers' meetings, more rules for reporting a wide range of incidents. From a house a newspaper's toss away emerge most of the Gipple family. Julie, 13, a mile runner on the Sacred Heart School track team, lurches groggily to the corner as mother, Betty, drives the family Mercury up. Jamie, 10, dashes up a minute later in his stocking feet. "I thought my shoes were in the car," he mutters, then races back to the house. The bundles are heaved into the trunk. Back on the Gipples' driveway, Jamie hits the bundle wires with the snippers. Eighty-nine newspapers are to be put into two Radio Flyer wagons, and there are 41 in one so far. "What's 41 from 89?" quizzes Gipple. "Mom, it's six in the morning," groans Julie. Turning onto Marcourt Lane, Julie splits up from Jamie and their mother, doing the opposite side of the street Waving toward a particular patch of sidewalk, Julie says casually, "That's where Johnny Gosch disappeared." A pancake-sized rust stain marks the spot, as if the boy had evaporated and left only a residue. "I was kinda scared" about taking Johnny's route, she says. "What scared me the most was when all the police came around here before, who were searching our yard and everything." But her mother has forbidden her to do the route alone, and she is never out of earshot. She delivers to the Gosch house. "They always warn me not even to do my collecting alone. They say there are a lot of weirdos out there." She pulls the wagon over lawns, curbs and sidewalks, past houses too new to be occupied. The papers make loud swishes as they slide onto porches. Julie was not a newspaper carrier when Gosch was abducted, but she was when Martin disappeared. "I wasn't as shocked this time. It wasn't as close to our neighborhood," she says. The sun comes up. The sky Is flecked with pollywog-shaped clouds. A German shepherd barks loudly at the front door of a house as Julie trudges past then dashes to a rear window for more barking. The route is done at 7:15. Not a sin- vvy. V. ff" Dennis Whelan Former Gosch investigator gle moving vehicle was seen and no strangers. Time for breakfast. "They feel safe in this neighborhood," Julie's mother says at the kitchen table. "If it was unsafe, I guess we'd all move." But it's still worth a few hours of lost morning sleep to her to walk with them. Just in case. x i VISA' All Stores Open .abor Day Where Allowed By Law JBElra1 Labor Day Where CHAWX It fWOSt labosi m Clock Radio With Battery Backup Chronomatic-233 by Realistic rmin. ii i-i.ii .I'. iniYi i r mil 27 Off vim rr it Reg. 37.95 Battery Backup Operates Clock and Alarm if AC Fails Wake to FM, AM radio or buzzer alarm. Easy-to-read display with hilo dimmer. 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