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Johnny Gosch: A Proof of Life (2010)

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Johnny Gosch: A Proof of Life
by Nick Bryant

Twelve-year-old Johnny Gosch was abducted on the morning of September 6, 1982 while delivering papers in West Des Moines, Iowa. He is one of the more infamous abductions in American history--Johnny Gosch's photo and a second kidnapped child were the first to appear on milk cartons.

Shortly after Franklin Committee investigator Gary Caradori found Paul Bonacci in May of 1990 at Nebraska's Lincoln Correctional Center, where Bonacci was incarcerated, the latter confessed to participating in the kidnapping of Johnny Gosch.

In 1992, FOX's America's Most Wanted eventually picked up on the story, and aired five segments on Johnny Gosch's abduction. America's Most Wanted interviewed and even polygraphed Bonacci, and his interview was integral to the show's coverage. America's Most Wanted showed Bonacci's first meeting with Noreen Gosch at the Lincoln Correctional Center--he broke down crying and apologized profusely. Here's a link to America's Most Wanted summary of Johnny's Gosch abduction: (Please note that America's Most Wanted timeline is incorrect regarding 1989 as the year when Bonacci "went public" about Johnny Gosch's abduction.)

Bonacci told America's Most Wanted that the man who coordinated the Johnny Gosch abduction was named "Emilio," and he provided a very detailed description of him--he also provided a detailed description of Emilio's henchman, whose name was "Tony." Bonacci has said that Emilio shoved a gun in mouth and threatened to kill him if he didn't accompany Emilio to abduct Johnny Gosch.

Bonacci also told America's Most Wanted about a sinister network of pedophiles, and he disclosed to the show's producers that Johnny Gosch had been held on a ranch in rural Colorado that was near an elephant shaped rock. Bonacci said that Johnny attempted to run away from the ranch and, as a punishment, he was branded like livestock, which the producers thought was extremely far-fetched. After Bonacci's interview aired on America's Most Wanted, a runaway named Jimmy contacted Noreen Gosch, and America's Most Wanted eventually interviewed him.

Jimmy claimed to have been on the Colorado ranch after Bonacci left the ranch, and he gave a description of the Colorado ranch and the elephant shaped rock that coincided with Bonacci's description. He then dumbfounded the producers of America's Most Wanted: Jimmy showed them a brand on his leg--the precise type of brand that Bonacci described! Bonacci and Jimmy also told the producers about a chamber beneath the Colorado house where the children were stashed. America's Most Wanted, Bonacci, and Jimmy took a field trip to rural Colorado, and they indeed found the elephant shaped rock and the ranch. Bonacci walked up to the vacant house and burst out in tears. Bonacci and Jimmy then led the producers to the chamber under the house.

America's Most Wanted also interviewed a friend of the Gosch family, who said that he had been to a Denver restaurant and saw "Johnny Gosch was here" written on the men's room wall. The Denver restaurant is a remarkable coincidence, and Jimmy's account certainly corroborated Bonacci's earlier account, but it isn't irrefutable proof that Johnny Gosch was in Colorado.

But when Bonacci was incarcerated at the Lincoln Correction Center after the fall of the Franklin Credit Union, he received various letters from around the country. The letters were from Kansas City, Missouri, Sacramento, California, and Brockton, Massachusetts, and they written by kids who Bonacci said were enmeshed in the vast underground pedophile network that abducted Johnny Gosch and is linked to "Franklin."

I've acquired some of the letters and they discuss Emilio and "Johnny" or "JG." One letter states: "The Col is gone to Mexico and took JG with him. JG is back to blond and had face surgery." So either Bonacci and these kids writing the letters were actually enmeshed in the network, "broke away," and are aware of Emilio and Johnny or JG, or Bonacci had these letters sent to him from kids around the country to provide bogus validation for his participation in Johnny Gosch's abduction. The latter supposition is preposterous, because surely Bonacci wouldn't conscript kids around the county to implicate him in additional crimes. (I've attached PDFs of three of those letters, and the redaction is mine.)

A second equally preposterous supposition put forward by naysayers is that John DeCamp somehow influenced Paul Bonacci to concoct the Johnny Gosch abduction story. Note that one of the letters, discussing "JG" and "the colonel" is postmarked June of 1990 from Sacramento. As I've previously mentioned, Bonacci initially met Caradori in May of 1990, a month before the Sacramento letter, and he hadn't even met John DeCamp prior to that letter.

Bonacci offered details of Johnny Gosch's abduction that had never been released to the press, Jimmy corroborated Bonacci, a family friend of the Goschs provided possible corroboration that Johnny Gosch may have been in Colorado, and Bonacci's letters supplied the names of kids who claimed to have been acquainted with Johnny Gosch after his abduction, but Iowa law enforcement never followed up on Bonacci's leads. America's Most Wanted interviewed a law enforcement official in Iowa who said that Iowa law enforcement hadn't interviewed Bonacci regarding Johnny Gosch because the Omaha FBI found him to be not credible. The FBI even pressured America's Most Wanted not to air its segments on Johnny Gosch, but America's Most Wanted host, John Walsh, refused to knuckle under to the FBI's pressure. In The Franklin Scandal, I discuss example after example of the Omaha FBI's cover up of Franklin, so it's truly unfortunate that it swayed Iowa law enforcement from at least interviewing Bonacci, because he could have provided valuable information about the disappearance of Johnny Gosch.


JPG images of Paul Bonacci letters and edited transcripts:

Paul Bonacci - Letter 01

Dear Dopey-Paul,

You know they never gave me your real name. Our buddy Mike Cross - AKA Shane? - He gave it to me while I was with him in April, told me to write you. He writes lots and gave me your address.

I hope you remember me. I was the boy you called Bubbles. Mike said to write this cause it will trigger Jamy (Juliet 791 Romeo666 Leopard).

Mike is doing good, he's living in a little place near Greenland, New Hampshire. I only got a year and get out next month and am going to live with Mike. He really loves you. Told me to tell you he'll contact you when you're out to discuss J.G. He also want REM6 because he lied to him about the porks and wants to tell his thing. I got one year for writing a few checks.

I did a few in jail. They have a twisted title for me and I am leaving the day I get out. I am living in fear as Mike Emilio is dying of AIDS. That's what Mike tells me. The Col. is gone to Mexico and took J.G. with him. J.G. is back to blonde and had face surgery. He still looks much the same but he don't know him like you did't.

Sorry about my spelling, I never had much school. Mike is not around REM6's group and has got a boy who broke away from REM6 living with him until he can convince him it's safe to go home.

Most of REM6's "takes" are used for snuff. But some are not killed just faked.

I will give my address. When you can write Mike and I when I get there. Mike says Travis K. called him and is going to talk to some P.I. for you soon. Got's picture and tapes of them. This letter is blocked from Paul because Jamy is the one who will hide it. Please Jamy until I'm safe don't tell no one.

I was also the boy who pinned you down and kept you quiet when the porks were chasing us in Toronto in '83 - you thought it was '79. I used to think you were crazy. Mike's explained it to me now.

Paul Bonacci - Letter 02

(Juliet 791 Romeo 666 Leopard)

Paul - Just writing to tell you that M.T. got here a few months ago - actually last July we waited till it's safer. We are moving again to avoid being caught by anyone REM6. Don't worry about him, he only has a year or so to live, he's got AIDS. I got away from him in June of '86 and he's tried to find me, but our buddy Travis is smart and knows how to keep ahead of them. The three of us plan to travel a bit and will wait for word from the dragon as to when it's safe for us to come see you.

The dragon you know was Emilio's buddy in Des Moines. He's in Boston now and not with Emilio no more. He can't go to anyone since he only heard about things, no personal knowledge. We all know what Emilio did was wrong, so he's paying for it. He got away from man's laws, but God's going to get him now. Charley was in prison but no one's heard how he's doing. I hope he gets eaten by maggots for what he did to me and Johnny. He needs to die for what he did with J. I know Jamy will hide this until Travis writes you and says we've moved again. Can't chance anyone tracing us. Take care, love you friend.

Paul Bonacci - Letter 03

Dear Paul,

I wanted to let you know I am doing well. I am with friends here in Mizzoo. They got dicky and almost Lester but Lester got away. Dicky is so doped he can't get away.

Our friends M.C. and M.T. both are well. They travel lots and so it's tough to spot them. Your nemesis REM6, ask Jamy about him, is dying in some foreign hospital of AIDS. M.T. wants Jamy to get you his letter from a few years ago.

I know you as Paul, Pablo, Jamy and Mikey. Or Poppy the Jungle Boy - ask Mikey about Poppy.

That stuff I gave C was heavy to get all those cruds. They won't get me that's sure enough. I can't write my name or address since I'm moving around all the time.

We will come to you when it's safe. It's safe for you because they are more scared of you if you're killed. Strange right.

You will have to ask Jamy to decode this letter since I use int. I work doing odd jobs and get paid under the table. I don't even exist to anyone.

They are planning to get a child from the Chicago area in September for the Fall Solstice. They will take anyone - so it may end up a street boy. I am a Christian and so is M.T. and M.K. They tried to get a kid from Omaha for the summer solstice. They didn't though. They got one from some place in the south. It was a sacrifice though I bet.

Well I got to go for now. I will write more when I get somewhere new.

Your friend.

p.s. Enclosed is a bad photo of me at 9. Bet you didn't know my hair was brown. A friend of mine got me this picture. The back was torn off - oh well.


More information about Johnny Gosch available here: