Eugene Martin

Eugene Martin (Courtesy Iowa Department of Public Safety)

Eugene Wade Martin

Missing Person

Eugene Wade Martin
Age at Report: 13 YOA
DOB: August 17, 1970
Missing From: Des Moines, IA
Polk County
Investigating Agency: Des Moines Police Department
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Weight: 110 lbs.
Height: 5’00”
Case Number: 8430464
NCIC Number: M-129642239
NCMEC Number: NCMC601815
NamUs MP # 6348
Incident Type: Involuntary Disappearance
Missing Since: August 12, 1984

Case summary compiled by Jody Ewing

On Sunday morning, August 12, 1984, 13-year-old Eugene Martin left his home at approximately 5 a.m. to deliver the Des Moines Register newspaper in the Des Moines area. He wore blue jeans, a red shirt and a gray pullover.

Eugene normally delivered the papers with his older stepbrother, but on this day went alone. The Iowa State Fair was in town, and Eugene — who in his free time enjoyed football, fishing, skating, video games and TV — wanted to make some extra money.

Witnesses said they saw Martin talking to a clean-cut white male in his 30s sometime between 5 and 5:45 a.m. at Southwest 12th Street and Highview Drive. Some stated the two appeared to be engaged in a friendly “father-son” sort of conversation, and others recalled seeing the teen folding papers and talking to the man sometime between 5:45 and 6:05 a.m.

Johnny Gosch and Eugene Martin reward posterCourtesy Des Moines Register
A poster announcing a $94,000 reward for information about Johnny Gosch or Eugene Martin, including $25,000 offered by the Des Moines Register, did nothing to solve either boys’ case. Download in PDF format

Between 6:10 and 6:15 a.m., Eugene’s bag was found on the ground outside of Des Moines with 10 folded papers still inside. When customers called to report not receiving their morning newspapers, the manager went out, found the bag and delivered the papers.

At approximately 8:40 a.m., the search for Eugene began. He has not been seen since.

Suspect Likely ‘Loner’

Federal agents said at the time there might be a “definite connection” to the disappearance of another Des Moines paper carrier — 12-year-old Johnny Gosch, who disappeared two years earlier on September 5, 1982 — and described the suspect as a “loner.”

Authorities said they were treating the Martin case as a kidnapping and had issued a nationwide bulletin for a man described as between 30 and 40 years old, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, clean shaven and with a medium build.

“Generally, the person is an introvert, a loner who may or may not be extra guilt-ridden on what he does but will not turn himself in,” said Herb Hawkins, special F.B.I. agent in charge of the Nebraska-Iowa field office in August 1994. Hawkins said some useful information was being gleaned from witnesses.

None of it panned out, however, and neither boy has ever been found.

“… when he left”

In a July 2010 interview with WHO-TV Channel 13’s Aaron Brilbeck in Des Moines, Eugene’s aunt, Jeannie McDowell, said she believes the cases are connected, though shudders to think of what the teens may have gone through. McDowell also said she does not think Eugene is still alive.

Jeannie McDowell Courtesy photo WHO-TV Channel 13, Des Moines
Eugene Martin’s aunt, Jeannie McDowell, spoke with Channel 13’s Aaron Brilbeck in July 2010 about her nephew and the toll his disappearance took on the family.

“I hope that he died instantly. I hope he didn’t suffer much,” she told Brilbeck in the second of five cold case installments WHO-TV aired throughout the month.

After losing his youngest son, McDowell said her brother, Don Martin, became withdrawn and spent all his time trying to find out what happened to his boy.

“Eugene was the baby,” McDowell said. “And when he left, it just killed my brother.”

McDowell said her brother went into his own little shell and didn’t want to speak to anybody. Still, day after day, he would read every paper and cut out clippings of anything that had to do with Gene.

donald-martin-kcrgCourtesy photo KCRG.com
NOTE: Eugene Martin’s father, Donald Martin, passed away on Dec. 27, 2010, due to complications from Alzheimer’s Disease and colon cancer. Donald Martin served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War from 1963 to 1966. He earned the Good Conduct Medal, Expert M-1 Rifle Medal, Sharp Shooter M14 Medal, along with the Vietnam Service Medal.

As he approached his 65th birthday in October 2010, Don Martin struggled with the cancer slowly eating away at his body as well as the final stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Eugene’s mother, Janice, had recently died from diabetes without ever knowing what happened to her son.

Despite the amount of pain he endured, McDowell believed her brother continued to hang on because of Gene. He needed some type of closure so he could go, she said. If he knew Gene was there “waiting for him,” he’d be able to let go and die in peace.

Five months after the WHO-TV interview, Donald Martin succumbed to complications from colon cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, and passed away on December 27, 2010.

At one time, a $94,000 reward was offered — including $25,000 by the Des Moines Register — for information leading to the recovery of either Johnny Gosch or Eugene Martin. It, too, eventually went by the wayside as weeks turned to months, and then years with no viable leads.

“It’s the case I’ll take to the grave.”

James Rowley, the retired Des Moines police detective who worked the Martin case until his retirement in 2001, also recognized the similarities in the two cases but still has questions about how they are linked.

James RowleyCourtesy photo WHO-TV Channel 13, Des Moines
Retired Des Moines police detective James Rowley worked the Eugene Martin case until his retirement in 2001, and has never given up on finding out what happened to the teen.

“Why the two-year gap?” he stated in an August 12, 2009 interview with the Des Moines Register. That just wasn’t how it normally worked with serial killers and kidnappers. A criminal’s “growing appetite” for crime, he told the Register, doesn’t allow for lengthy holding patterns.

“Where was he before ’82?” Rowley asked. “Where was he between ’82 and ’84, and where was he after ’84?”

Another young Des Moines teen — 13-year-old Marc James Warren Allen — did in fact disappear from Des Moines in 1986. On March 29, 1986, Allen told his mother he planned to walk to a friend’s house down the street, but then just vanished.

Rowley told the Register he has heard all the theories, conspiracy and otherwise, but that none made sense. He’d even traveled to Mexico and Canada to follow up on tips — chasing down somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 leads during the investigation — but found not one credible.

WHO-TV’s Aaron Brilbeck reports on the 1984 disappearance of missing Des Moines paperboy Eugene Martin. Air Date: July 8, 2010

Rowley, who worked more than 200 homicides and 50 bank robberies during his tenure as a police officer — helping to solve 80 percent of them — believes the clean-cut man near Martin’s home talked Eugene into leaving his route.

Rowley said Eugene Martin’s case bothers him more than any others he’s worked. In his home garage hangs a poster of Eugene to remind him every day.

Eugene Martin age progressed Courtesy photo National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
An age-progressed composite of how Eugene might look today.

“This case haunts me,” he told WHO-TV’s Brilbeck when interviewed for the July cold case series. “It’s the case I’ll take to the grave.”

After nearly 30 years, the former detective still seems amazed they’d never had a solid lead in Eugene’s case. No bone. No fragment. No evidence.

Rowley said he takes the case personally and will leave Eugene’s poster up in his garage until Gene is found or the case is solved.

In a KCCI Channel 8 report that aired Aug. 1, 2014, Des Moines Police Department spokesman Sgt. Scott Raudabaugh said older cold cases are looked at on a yearly basis, and the department has a select group of officers who specifically look at very old cases.

“Certainly the serious cases are extremely important to Des Moines Police Department,” Raudabaugh said, adding that police will examine old pieces of evidence from cold cases with new technology like DNA testing.

“Everything that could be done was done to take advantage of technology that exists now that didn’t exist maybe 10, 15, 20 years ago,” he told KCCI. “If in any way we can develop a suspect and follow up on that we certainly do.”

About Eugene

Eugene Wade Martin was born August 17, 1970. He has a scar on his right knee and has had a broken right wrist.

Information Needed

Anyone with information about Eugene Martin is asked to call Det. Jeff Shannon at the Des Moines Police Department at (515) 283-4864. You may also call Det. Larry Penland at (515) 237-1550.

Sources and References:

 

Copyright © 2016 Iowa Cold Cases, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

20 Responses to Eugene Martin

  1. Mary Crouse says:

    I am left wondering about the cases of Johnny Gosch and Eugene Martin. Did anyone check backgrounds of anyone working at the Des Moines Register? It seems strange to me that two boys delivering papers in neighborhoods would be taken by anyone other than someone that would know the routes the paperboys would take and what neighborhoods they worked in.

    I can’t imagine having to live with this as a parent. I have a son who is now grown and these cases made me so paranoid that I would worry every time my son went out to play with his friends. I was so bad I even made my son carry a two-way radio so if he ever got into any trouble he could call for help.

    • Mary says:

      Yes! I thought this too. What about the newspaper manager? I’m sure they checked into this but maybe it was overlooked. Also, what about a person (newspaper customer) that might have been common to both boy’s (newspaper) routes.

  2. Jenna says:

    It’s wrong to automatically assume two cases being connected. Unless there’s evidence supporting the fact, it has to remain as conjecture. Most likely the Des Moines register people have already been checked out thoroughly. It’d be the easiest source to check.

    What one should be asking is if all fair goers have been accounted for, or even interviewed. I’m not saying that the officers on the case haven’t been doing their due diligence, but it’d be awfully difficult to interview everyone there.

    Possibly start with employees running new attraction, or just new employees working in that area. While a fair goer could have easily kidnapped him, an attraction worker would have the readily available excuse of being an attraction worker for, saying, moving large items, tools, etc. Not to mention that they’d have access to areas that might otherwise be off limits.

    I can just imagine what the police were dealing with at the time, with the chaos of a nationally-acclaimed fair AND a kidnapping occuring simultaneously. Just taking into accound the fair, it sounds like pure chaos on which a criminal could easily capitalize. Hopefully Eugene Martin will finally be found.

  3. sheila says:

    i dont know if related or not but i do remember them coming up missing, i didnt know either of them but to this day it haunts me! i feel so sorry for the family to have to go through what they are going through. how can two boys just vanish into the night never be seen or found?

  4. Brooke Beckman says:

    Although I never met my cousin Gene, my mother told me great stories about him. Reading this just breaks my heart. R.I.P uncle Donny and cousin Gene. I hope you both have joined together again♥
    JusticeForGene

  5. Mark Becker says:

    Every one knows who took them..The group of homosexal pedophiles based in Nebraska and Colorado. Martin was killed in Colorado for not cooperating. Gosh died at a man boy event..

  6. Jonna Warner says:

    Mark Becker, how do you know this?

  7. Sherri Lyon says:

    so sorry for the families,god bless you.

  8. Daniel King says:

    Are you related to Daniel Becker who is on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry? Both you and Daniel Becker.. look as if you are related. Anyway, I am sure that you are only trolling…but I figured that I would ask you about Daniel Becker.

  9. Daniel King says:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/investigators-prepare-announcement-in-1975-missing-girls-case/2015/07/14/2ca2e68c-2a2f-11e5-a250-42bd812efc09_story.html

    Is there a chance that the Eugene Martin case and this missing sister's case are related? It sounds like Welch (the man in the article) had an accomplice. "Instead, police grew more interested in another possible suspect: a man said to be about 50, dressed in a brown suit, who was seen talking with the girls while holding a briefcase and a tape recorder."

    A clean cut man was seen talking to Eugene on the morning that he disappeared.

    When Eugene disappeared… the Iowa State Fair was in town. Well… " Welch worked for a traveling carnival operating rides."

    "— Welch’s criminal history, including the Maryland burglaries, a possible robbery in Iowa, the molestation of the 10-year-old girl in South Carolina, the sexual assault of the other 10-year-old girl in Delaware."

    Welch may have been responsible for a robbery in IOWA!!!! I don't know where to find out which city/town that this robbery had taken place.

    There is also no timeline for Welch after he was released from his sentence in the mid-1980s. His arrest record doesn't show up again until 1992. Where was he between lets say, 1984 and 1991/1992? Traveling with carnival?

    Perhaps, I am just reading too much into all of this…..

  10. Terra DeLora says:

    I feel the illuminati is alive and well in Des Moines, Iowa.

  11. Marc Bolinger says:

    The Johnny Gosch case is pretty well known as his mother Noreen has written a book and it corroberates a story too disgusting to share here but an entire abduction organization was behind this from close by Omaha, Look up “Franklin cover up” and you’ll be shocked, Please dont insult the hurting parents with posts about made up, its what goes on, It will change your opinion of law enforcement at high levels

  12. long time ago i spoke on two separate occasions to eugenes father. has anyone looked under that combine. the one parked in front of the old farm house by the racoon river. psychic, not your business. both times i talked to mr. martin we spoke of the same place.

    • Dan says:

      Hello, I was wondering what else you 2 talked about? How was Mr. Martin? And also, how did the subject of the farmhouse come up?

      Thanks

  13. andrea says:

    So Roger Dean Matice who grew up in Cedar Rapids and who according to various old newspaper articles would visit various relatives in other areas in Iowa including less than an hour West of Des Moines, looks uncannily like the guy in the sketch composite associated with the Johnny Gosch abduction. He has dark brown eyes and when he was younger had black hair even though it is white and grey now.

    Have a look at Matic’s booking photo here and compare it to the sketch of the suspect in the Johnny Gosch abduction:

    http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/yourhoustonnews.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/ad/ead3a5f4-6fa1-11e4-af10-b7d3bea5eb62/546c182b51157.image.jpg?resize=760%2C686

    Matice had a history of previously sexually assaulting a 12YO paper boy in Cedar Rapids in 1966, when Matice was a 24YO university student. Matice then stayed off of law enforcement’s radar until he was busted for child porn 2 years ago. He’s now doing time in the federal pen for distributing child porn.

    Matice was in his 40’s when Gosch, Martin and Allen disappeared, and that was the estimated age of the perp in the Gosch disappearance.

    Moreover, Matice is, according to his booking information, 5 feet 8 inches, only 1 inch shorter than the witnesses estimated Johnny Gosch’s abductor to be.

    Although Matice appears to have lived in Chicago at the time of the Gosch, Martin and Allen abductions, Matice’s parents still lived in Cedar Rapids and according to old news articles he had grandparents and other relatives less than an hour to the West of Des Moines. It isn’t unconceivable that he could have borrowed a relative’s car when visiting in-state, or that he could have put fake plates on his own car.

    When Matice was busted for child porn 2 years ago in Texas, the county prosecutor said to local media (before the case was transferred to the feds) that Matice had never been in trouble with the law before. I called the prosecutor up to disabuse him of this notion and also emailed him a scanned article in PDF format from Matice’s 1966 assault on the 12YO paperboy in Cedar Rapids. Somehow that was not in *any* computer system anywhere.

    It seems to me that Roger Matice probably therefore was not on anyone’s radar during the Gosch, Martin and Allen investigations.

    But given his physical appearance, ties to Iowa, and his prior assault on a 12YO newspaper boy (plus thte fact that Matice himself had been a newspaper boy when a kid) he needs to be looked at in the Gosch, Martin and Allen cases.

    What sort of car did Matice drive back then? What sort of cars did his relatives own?

    The Allen, Gosch, and Martin disappearances all occurred on a weekend, indicating that the perp probably had a weekday job, he would have had to do his abducting on a weekend. What sort of job did Matice have back then?

    Could the witnesses in the Gosch and Martin abductions who gave physical descriptions maybe look at photos of Roger Matice?

    • Discombobulated says:

      Excellent Sleuthing. They ought to torture the hell out of him to find out if he was involved. He certainly looks like the composite and his history of attacking another paperboy and he himself being one fits the profile of someone with knowledge of how these kids worked. An online sleuth like yourself helped link the gentleman who could be Joseph Wetterling’s kidnapper to 5 other boys, so well done and lets hope your sleuthing brings some answers to these long suffering families.

  14. andrea says:

    Roger Matice (prior attack on a 12YO newspaper carrier in Cedar Rapids, plus also now in the federal pen for child porn) is a HAM radio operator. His webpage pertaining to that, with a biography, is located here at this link: http://www.qrz.com/db/K0KON

    In the event this link is taken down, I want to preserve here what he has to say about himself. Matice says:

    I grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa – the home of Collins Radio Co. It was hard not to know someone who was a ham! We probably had more hams per capita than any other city in the world.

    But my interest in shortwave radio started as a SWL at an earlier age of 9 or 10 because a family friend had a state-of-the-art Hallicrafters shortwave receiver. I loved tuning around the bands finding BBC, Radio Moscow, Voice of America, and Duetsche Welle.

    When one of my friends in Cedar Rapids showed me his dad’s ham radio shack with all those knobs and switches and meters and told me that his dad talked to other hams all over the world, I was hooked!

    I got my novice license around 1956 when I was 15. (Yes, I was born in 1941, that makes me 73years oldnow.) My call was KN0KON. I built my first transmitter – 25 watts, crystal controlled – in shop class. I got an “A” because it was such an unique project! I don’t remember what I had for a receiver – nothing special, I’m sure, because I didn’t have much money! And I suppose I had a simple wire antenna. Basic, but what great fun! I was talking to the world! A couple of my best friends in high school were also interested in ham radio. Together, we studied and got our Technician Class licenses.

    VHF and especially UHF were pretty experimental in the late 50’s and early 60’s and Collins Radio was at the forefront in the development of equipment at those high frequencies because of their involvement with the Air Force and the space program. Many of the engineers at Collins were hams and very active on 6 meters – one of the bands Technician Class hams could use A3 mode- AM at that! Does anyone remember the name of the 6-meter transceivers that the Civil Defense Agency provided to hams?

    One of the early memories I have is attending the first EME experiment at the Collins facility. It was a very exciting moment to hear those signals bouncing back from the moon!

    Other memories include visiting Arthur Collins’ (W0CXX) personal ham shack. Hardly a shack! Of course he had state-of-the-art equipment including two full-sized Log Periodic antennas on separate towers in the woods behind the house. Coax cables were enclosed in inert gas-filled pipes running out to the antennas! Collins was an interesting guy. The story was that he gotten bored during his first year at MIT and returned home to experiment and build radio equipment in his basement some of which was used by Adr. Byrd on his expedition to the Antarctic in 1934.

    Many considered Art to be a genius. I heard that he was always experimenting with new ideas and when one got stuck in his head, he would work ’round the clock. Apparently, many of his upper level employees were not always as enthusiastic and Art became known as somewhat of a tyrant! Sometimes his experimenting didn’t end well. Collins was a Mercedes-Benz fan because of their reputa- tion for engineering superiority. He took his 300SL (Gullwing) out on a winding, country road between Cedar Rapids and Mt. Vernon and wrapped the car around a tree at 120 mph. He wanted to find its “limits”!

    Another time the father of my best friend in high school accompanied Collins and a team of engineers aboard an experimental boat off the coast of California. The company had started experimenting with hull shapes constructed of fiberglass. As I recall it was the largest fiberglass hull ever build up until that time (70-ft. +/-). Collins wanted to see how it would handle in high seas and so ordered the boat out in gale force winds with all aboard. The boat survived, but was badly soiled by seasick passengers!

    Now, you might think that I studied electrical engineering in college. Wrong! I was a theater major – “all the world’s a stage…, etc.” I never became an actor, but because I had lots of courses in radio and television production I was offered a job at North German Broadcasting in Hamburg when I was living there in 1967. But that’s a whole other story for another time.

    After returning home from Germany, I went to work for Sears. In 1969 I was transferred to Chicago to work at their headquarters. I lived in a couple of apartment buildings that didn’t allow antennas, so ham radio took a back seat to a budding career. But in the late ‘70’s I moved into a high rise condo building along lake Michigan. My unit was on the 22nd floor of a 40 story building.

    I had seen a large 3-element Yagi on the top of a similarly tall condo building and that got me to thinking how great it would be to get back into ham radio and have an antenna up that high. I asked for permission to install an antenna on the roof of our building, but, of course, the request was denied. I offered all kinds of bonding, guarantees, and insurance, etc. to no avail. (The fact that I had gotten caught dropping a wire down from the roof after picking the lock to the access door probably didn’t help me much!)

    I ended up using a hydraulically operated mobile antenna designed for military and commercial use, mounting it out one of the windows. Having the window cracked even a little in the middle of winter in Chicago wasn’t a whole lot of fun! The tip end could be raised and lowered with a hydraulic pump to cover 10 through 80 meters. The big problem up 22 floors was getting a counterpoise positioned just right to achieve resonance. But over time I worked about 110 countries and had a lot of fun being back on the air.

    Having been lucky enough to travel all over the world for work and play, I’ve always been interested in DX operating. And like many DX’ers, I found the idea of being part of a DXpedition to be particularly exciting. Not having time or funds to be a part of a major DXpedtition, I decided to create my own (what is now called) “suitcase” adventure. Knowing the Caribbean fairly well, I did some research and came up with the island of Saba as my base of operation. A Dutch island just a few miles from St. Martin, the population of 1,000 persons and 5,000 goats included one ham who was not very active. Seemed liked a good spot!

    My plans included taking my Kenwood TS-930SAT, a partially assembled KLM V10-40, four band vertical with precut radials, MC-50 microphone, a paddle key and electronic keyer. I planned to take the radio on board and check the crate containing everything else. But when I got to the airport to check in to “Fly By Night International Airlines”, I was told that I could not carry the radio onboard because it was too large. I argued that I had measured the carton and it was within limits. They disagreed, but assured me that the radio would be stowed in a special compartment and would be handled with care. After a delay of five hours in leaving Chicago, we were informed that the flight could only get as far as Puerto Rico that night. So we finally took off, stopped in Miami, and arrived in San Juan around 11:00 pm. I impatiently waited for my luggage and the radio to come off the plane. Suitcase – no radio!It had been stolen.

    I arrived on Saba with my antenna and other paraphernalia, but no radio. Damn! So I sat on the top of the mountain for a week with very little to do but take pictures of fauna and flora – and goats! (By the way, the plane taking us from St. Martin to Saba was a “stall plane” flown by ex-Dutch Air Force pilots especially trained to land on the air strip built along the side of the mountain and aboutas long as an aircraft carrier ship! Exciting!)

    So now I am retired and after 22 years off air, and, again, enjoying a hobby that has been so interest-ing and so much fun for so many years. I am still using the replacement TS-930SAT that I bought in 1982when I returned from the disaster in Saba (fortunately paid for by my home owner’s insurance) and the same antenna that was never taken out of the crate until now. I live in a townhouse complex in Houston near the center of the city. The conditions for a ham radio station couldn’t be worse (even worse than the high rise in Chicago). The vertical is only 10 feet north of the building and 10 feet off the ground. On the other side of my fence is a massive power sub-station! For whatever reason, I’m getting signals in and out. Since getting back on the air March 18, I’ve had 1800 QSO’s and worked 119 countries!

    WOW! I can’t believe it!

    What great fun! What a great hobby!

    73’s Roger/K0KON

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