Photos said not to depict missing boy
- DES MOINES, Iowa - The photos of bound and gagged boys that were
sent to an Iowa woman whose son disappeared 24 years ago were
investigated in the late 1970s and are not her missing son, a
retired Florida sheriff's investigators said Wednesday.
Nelson Zalva, who now works for the Hillsborough County, Fla., State
Attorney's Office, said he investigated the same photos while
working for the county's sheriff in 1978 or 1979.
"I remember this case," he said. "I identified the kids portrayed in
the photos. It was definitely investigated by me several years prior
to the disappearance of Johnny Gosch."
The photos were in an envelope left at the West Des Moines home of
Johnny's mother, Noreen Gosch, on Aug. 27.
One photo, in black and white, shows a boy bound and gagged on a
bed. Another is a color photo of the same boy in a similar pose with
two others boys.
Noreen Gosch turned the photos over to police, who have been
investigating the authenticity of the photos and any connection her
Johnny was 12 when he disappeared from his neighborhood before
daybreak on Sept. 5, 1982. His photo was became one of the first of
a missing child to be put on a milk carton. Police have said they
believe he was abducted but they have few clues.
Zalva said his investigation never resulted in an arrest because the
children in the photos never admitted that the suspect touched them
inappropriately. He said the boys in the photos had voluntarily
posed for the photos, but he couldn't recall why.
"Basically, what happened is someone, maybe it was one of the
parents, found the photos and called the sheriff's office and
deputies went out there, impounded the photos and the case was
assigned to me for investigation," Zalva said. "I worked a long time
on it, getting the kids identified."
Lt. Jeff Miller, a West Des Moines Police spokesman, said the
investigation is continuing into who left the photos at Noreen
"If they are not of Johnny Gosch, someone is playing a horrible
prank," he said.
Miller said Gosch has been informed of the Florida investigation.
A telephone message left Wednesday morning for Gosch was not