DES MOINES, Iowa -- The FBI Tuesday searched nationwide for a 'loner' suspect in the disappearance of a newspaper carrier andsaid there may be 'a definite connection' to another paperboy who vanished from his route in 1982.
Eugene Martin, whose 14th birthday is Friday, vanished early Sunday as he was about to deliver copies of the Des Moines Register. Fellow newsboy Johnny Gosch disappeared from his Sunday route Sept. 5, 1982, and has not been heard from since.
Authorities said they are treating the Martin case as a kidnapping and have issued a nationwide bulletin for a white man described as between 30 and 40 years old, 5-foot-9, clean shaven and with a medium build.
'Generally, the person is an introvert, a loner who may or may not be extra guilt-ridden on what he does but will not turn himself in,' said Herb Hawkins, special FBI agent in charge of the Nebraska-Iowa field office.
An FBI specialist is being flown in from Washington to draw a composite sketch of the man six witnesses saw talking to Martin he disappeared, police said.
Six independent witnesses have told police they saw a white male talking to Martin that morning, Des Moines Police Sgt. Bill Mullins told a news conference Tuesday.
'None had any reason to pay specific attention to him, so that's why our description is so vague. They weren't talking loud. There wasn't an argument or anything like that,' he said.
Hawkins, concurring with local authorities, said 'there may be a definite connection' with Gosch's disappearance and that of Martin.
Hawkins said he would look into a report by Martin's father, Donald, that an unidentified man told him he saw a boy 'looking battered and beaten' in a car headed out of town Sunday evening. The man spotted the car about three miles from the Martin home but was not sure the boy was Eugene, Martin said.
'This guy told me he saw a young man Sunday night -- about 5 p.m. - looking battered and beaten in this car. He had a pleading look in his eyes,' Martin said.
'He said he thought the kid was with his dad and so he didn't want to get involved. He had been away in the day and had no idea of the kidnapping reports.
'Early yesterday (Monday), he said he saw a picture of my son and he got to thinking about what he saw. He came over to tell me and I called the police right away,' Martin, 38, said.
He said the man did not notice what kind of car the youth was in, nor did he get a description of the driver or other pertinent information.
Martin said a 'Help Find Eugene Martin Fund' was established at a bank after a suggestion by Noreen and John Gosch, Johnny's parents.
A reward fund for information in the Martin case has grown to $35,000 -- $25,000 from the Register, $5,000 from WHO Broadcasting Co. and $5,000 from the Iowa Newspaper Association.
Police also have established a 24-hour police hotline to monitor leads from the public.
District circulation managers were told to accompany carriers on their morning rounds indefinitely.