More than any other missing child case, Johnny Gosch's story has spawned countless theories and has instilled intrigue in the millions who remember the kid on the side of a milk carton. Noreen Gosch, Johnny's mother, along with filmmakers David Beilinson and Michael Galinsky who chronicle her story in their documentary Who Took Johnny, joined Dave Schrader (email) to discuss the infamous thirty-year-old cold case. "When we set out to make the movie... it was Noreen's movie, it was her story to tell," Galinsky disclosed, pointing out how the two filmmakers felt a responsibility to help Noreen tell her story in a way that was respectful.
Beilinson and Galinsky spent several years researching the Gosch case and completing their film on his disappearance. "To this day it's the scariest project we've ever worked on...the reality of the story is very scary," Beilinson admitted, recapping some details of the story. On September 5, 1982, 12-year-old Johnny Gosch left home before dawn to begin his paper route. Other paperboys reported seeing him pick up his newspapers and claimed to have observed Johnny talking to a man in a car, Beilinson reported. That morning Johnny's parents started getting calls from customers complaining about not receiving their newspapers. His father immediately investigated and found Johnny's wagon full of unbundled papers, he added.
"I felt immediately there was something wrong because Johnny never had a late paper," Noreen recalled, noting she phoned the police department as well as the district manager of the newspaper to get the names of the other paperboys. Each of the carriers confirmed Johnny had spoken to a man in a car, and one remembered Johnny saying, "There's something really weird about this guy. I'm scared. I'm going home," she explained. According to Noreen, after Johnny began heading home, the man in the car flicked on his dome light three times, another man stepped out from a group of trees, and moments later a car door slammed and tires screeched as it sped away.
One boy who witnessed the event from his window reported seeing Johnny shot with something and fall to the ground while two men grabbed and threw him into the car, Noreen continued. There were witnesses to each part of his kidnapping, she asserted. Despite the many witness accounts, one of which was given by an upstanding attorney, the police department, its chief of police, and even the FBI, would not treat the case as a kidnapping. Instead, they assumed Johnny had run away from home, Noreen said.