The mother of Johnny Gosch, the West Des Moines paperboy who disappeared seven years ago, said Wednesday she was stunned by the discovery of the body of a young man with a similar name.
West Des Moines police thought they had a break in Gosch's baffling disappearance when Mexican authorities on Friday pulled the body of a young man from a drainage ditch in northern Mexico and identified him as John E. Gosch. The name was similar to John D. Gosch, who vanished on Sept. 5, 1982, while delivering Sunday newspapers in Des Moines.
But West Des Moines Police Lt. Gary Scott said a Tacoma, Wash., family named Gosch maintains the body is that of their adopted son.
Police in Yuma, Ariz., said John E. Gosch apparently was killed near their city in a drug-related shooting and the body ended up in Mexico. Yuma authorities said they will send dental records to West Des Moines for comparisons to the missing paperboy.
"I feel terrible," said Noreen Gosch, the paperboy's mother. "This whole coincidence is just unbelievable. It would be such a relief to have it over. I'd rather have the bad news over now instead of later."
The coincidences do not stop at the names of the victims. The man found in Mexico was born on Oct. 22, 1969, two weeks before the missing paperboy's birthday.
The Gosch family in Washington told West Des Moines police they adopted a boy in Oklahoma in 1980 and renamed him John.
Noreen Gosch said her son was spotted in Oklahoma a few months after he disappeared. A boy reportedly begged a woman for help before being dragged off by two men. The woman called police but they could not locate the youth.
In another coincidence, Des Moines police traveled to southern Mexico last week to check out a reported sighting of Eugene Martin, who disappeared from his Des Moines paper route two years after John D. Gosch vanished.