WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- 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 Friday thought they had a break in Gosch's baffling 1982 disappearance when a body showed up in northern Mexico. Mexican authorities pulled the body of a young man from a drainage ditch and identified him as John E. Gosch, similar to John D. Gosch, who vanished without a trace 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 says the body is that of their adopted son.
Yuma, Ariz., police said John E. Gosch apparenty was killed near their city in a drug-related shooting and the body ended up in Mexico.
Yuma authorities 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 Oct. 22, 1969, just two weeks before the missing paperboy.
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 begged a woman for help before being dragged off by two men. The woman called police but authorities 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 disappared from his Des Moines paper route almost exactly two years after Johnny vanished.
The two cases came to symbolize the national problem of missing children and their faces appeared on milk cartons and the sides of trucks across the nation.
Noreen Gosch said if there are any similarities between the dental records of her son and the Arizona victim, she will ask for a court order to open the adoption file of the Washington family.
Gosch wants to talk with the Washington family but they say they are in too much shock to do that yet.
Noreen Gosch said she dreamed this week the two families were having a court battle over the custody of the body.
'We had gotten over the nightmares but now they're back and I'm in court fighting for a dead body,' Gosch said. 'I feel numb. This is just so weird.'
Gosch said the latest twist may add more material for a book she's considering writing on how families can cope with traumatic stress.