This week one of the unfortunate icons of the organized kidnapping and child sex trade, Johnny Gosch, will turn 40 years old. Wherever he is. I've just now come to learn a little about his very sad story. God bless his family for keeping strong for him all these years!
Johnny Gosch was kidnapped in 1982 while out on his usual paper route. He was 12 years old. You may remember the "Leave your front porch light on for missing children" campaign from the '90s. That was inspired by the Gosch family actually leaving their front porch light on for 15 years after the day Johnny went missing.
The case also has some very strange twists. Johnny's mother, Noreen, started the Johnny Gosch Foundation in 1982 and immediately became an advocate for kidnapping and pedophilia awareness, touring schools and testifying before Congress. She received death threats after said testimony - her allegations that her son's case was tied to organized crime apparently touched nerves of those involved.
Noreen Gosch has testified - in a separate case that may be related to Johnny's kidnapping - that Johnny visited her once in 1997 (he would have been aged 27), accompanied by an unknown man. She says that Johnny identified his captors and said he feared for his life, and warned her to keep his visit a secret unless absolutely necessary. She apparently hasn't communicated with him since.
Later, in 2006, photos were left on Noreen's doorstep that were allegedly photos of a kidnapped Johnny as a child, though the authenticity of those photos (as well has Johnny's alleged 1997 visit) has been subject of much speculation. If you search the web, you'll find other sites dedicated to the case as well, many espousing conspiracy theories involving the CIA or other parts of the government and military orchestrating a child sex trade.
I'll leave you with what really grabbed me about the story when I started looking into this today - Noreen's happy 40th birthday wishes to her son:
"Johnny, Do you remember when you asked me to make this cake for you? You had seen a picture of it in a cookbook and thought a "blue castle cake" would be neat. We went to the store and bought all the items and built this cake together. You loved it so much you didn't want to ever cut it and eat it. You were 5 years old in this photo. I hope you have a Happy Birthday, where ever you are living.