DES MOINES, Iowa -- The kidnapping of a 13-year-old paperboy is hauntingly similar to the disappearance of Johnny Gosch, a carrier who vanished two years ago and still is missing, police said.
Police said Sunday they are concerned there may be a link between the disappearances of Eugene Martin and Gosch, both paperboys for The Des Moines Register.
The Register is warning its carriers to be wary of strangers and offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to Martin.
Police were searching for a man seen driving in the area around the time Martin went to pick up his papers, but said they had no other leads.
Martin left his home at 5 a.m. Sunday to deliver the Des Moines Sunday Register. When he failed to return home, his father, Donald Martin, called police at 8:40 a.m., Sgt. Bill Mullins said.
The boy's newspapers, some folded and the rest still bundled, were found on the street corner not far from where Martin and his father live. The boy's parents are divorced.
'We questioned them both pretty good and she (Janice Martin) emphasized she had nothing to do with it. The detectives believe her. We're treating it as a kidnapping,' Mullins said.
The case is similar to the disappearance of Gosch, a West Des Moines paperboy who vanished the morning of Sept. 5, 1982, as he was about to begin his paper route. He was 12 at the time.
Despite a nationwide search, the help of private detectives and numerous appearances on national television shows, Noreen and John Gosch have yet to find their son.
Asked if there was a link between the Gosch disappearance and the missing Martin boy, Assistant Police Chief Don Knox said, 'We have some concern there certainly.'
The Register has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to Martin's whereabouts, spokesman John Miksich said. The newspaper offered a similar reward when Gosch disappeared.
John Gosch said his family will help the Martins in any way possible if they wish.
Newspaper carriers were contacted Sunday evening and warned to be 'especially careful the next few days,' Miksich said.
Flyers were included in the bundles of today's newspapers, reminding carriers to carry whistles and flashlights and reminding them not to approach any vehicles or venture down dark streets or alleys.
District managers were summoned to join the carriers on their routes today.
Mullins also said authorities were searching for the driver of an old model, 'beat up' green car last seen in the area of the Martin boy's delivery spot at about 5:10 a.m.
Two girls who saw the driver described him as being a short, white man between 25 and 30 years old with short, brown hair parted down the middle, Knox said.
'We certainly want to talk with him,' Mullins said. 'Other than that, we have absolutely no leads at all.'
The Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation and the FBI have been alerted on the National Crime Information Center wire.