Marc James Warren Allen
Age at Report: 13
DOB: May 13, 1972
Weight: 85 lbs.
Case Type: Endangered Missing
Missing From: Des Moines, IA Polk County NCIC #: M-190867573
NCMEC #: NCMC1053047
Missing Since: March 29, 1986
On March 29, 1986 — the day before Easter — Marc James-Warren Allen became the third Des Moines, Iowa paperboy to vanish without a trace. Johnny Gosch, 12, of West Des Moines disappeared September 5, 1982. Thirteen-year-old Eugene Martin vanished from Des Moines’ south side just two years later on August 12, 1984, under very similar circumstances.
Then, not quite two years later, 13-year-old Marc Allen told his mother he planned to walk to a friend’s house down the street but never arrived at the neighbor’s home and hasn’t been seen since.
Courtesy photo WHO-TV Channel 13
Marc Allen’s mother, Nancy Allen, told Channel 13′s Aaron Brilbeck that every time the news reports a body has been found, her feelings jump from not wanting it to be her son yet wishing for the chance to finally bury him and give them both peace.
Nearly three decades later, all three boys’ cases remain unsolved.
Marc’s mother, Nancy Allen, admitted her son had been a handful; the teen had been shifted back and forth between her Iowa residence and his father’s Minnesota home most of his young life and he’d often get into trouble. But in a week normally filled with family get-togethers, shopping and holiday activities, Nancy took time to speak with WHO-TV Channel 13′s Aaron Brilbeck about what it has been like waiting so many years for answers and wondering about the fate of a young son who never quite seemed to fit in.
“It was hard because he had been living with dad for a while and then came back and lived with me, and [his] younger brother and older sister were real close and he wanted to be in there. In tight,” she said.
Courtesy photo WHO-TV
Marc Allen waved goodbye to his mother while walking along this Des Moines sidewalk and was never seen nor heard from again.
They never got the chance for that to happen.
The night before Easter in 1986, the teen left his southwest Emma Avenue home to hang out with friends and perhaps take in a movie just as his siblings prepared for a pizza dinner.
“He walked out the door and the kids were getting ready to have pizza and I’ll never forget it as long as I live,” Allen told Brilbeck. “The last thing he said to me as he walked out the door was ‘Save me some pizza, Mom. I’ll be hungry when I get home.’”
Nancy watched her son walk down the sidewalk, past the bushes, and then he was gone.
Courtesy photo WHO-TV
Marc Allen as a youngster.
“He waved when he got to the bushes and I waved at him and that was that and I never saw him again,” his mother said.
The next morning when Nancy realized Marc hadn’t come home the night before, she knew immediately something wasn’t right but hoped against hope he’d prove her wrong.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children released this age-enhanced photo of what Marc Allen might look like today.
“It was Easter Sunday so I thought maybe he went to Grandma’s knowing Grandma would have an Easter basket there for each of the kids. So I asked my mom but he wasn’t there,” she said. “I had phone numbers for his friends. Called all of them. No one had seen him.”
Allen said she called police, but they told her they couldn’t do anything for 48 hours. Days turned into months.
Police checked in Minnesota where Marc’s father lived, and in Connecticut where the boy’s paternal grandmother lived. Nothing.
Allen told Brilbeck she didn’t know whether her son’s disappearance was linked to the disappearances of Johnny Gosch and Eugene Martin, but said police seemed reluctant to help her because of the other missing teens.
“I just feel like, at this time, they were just afraid of …afraid of what would happen with the Eugene Martin and Gosch thing. I got the distinct feeling that they did not want parents to be frightened to let their children sell newspapers or do different things,” she said.
The Des Moines Police Department’s Sgt. Jeff Edwards disagrees.
Courtesy photo WHO-TV, Des Moines
Sgt. Jeff Edwards of the Des Moines Police Department
“I know detectives followed up on leads that did not pan out,” Edwards told Brilbeck in a separate interview for the story WHO-TV aired Thanksgiving Day 2010. “They were not able to locate him. He’s still listed as a missing person.”
Marc’s mother said she doesn’t know whether her son is alive or dead, but that after 25 years she’d like to know for sure so she — and her son — can find peace.
“There are times when the news says they’ve found a body and they’re not sure yet how old it is but they’re pretty sure it’s male,” said Nancy. “And in one instant you hold your breath and bite your fingernails and hope that it’s not your child. And in other ways you wish they would come out and say that it is your child — so you can finally bury them and go to rest.”
WHO-TV Channel 13′s Aaron Brilbeck reports on the unsolved March 29, 1986 disappearance of 13-year-old Des Moines paperboy Marc James Warren Allen. November 25, 2010
Marc Allen was last seen wearing a light blue t-shirt, blue jean shorts, white socks and gray tennis shoes with velcro tabs. He has a small scar on the top of his head, and his first name might be spelled “Mark” by some agencies involving missing children and persons.
To date, there is no definitive evidence connecting Marc Allen’s case to that of Johnny Gosch or Eugene Martin.
If you have any information concerning Marc Allen’s disappearance, please contact the Des Moines Police Department at 515-283-4811 or Iowa Cold Cases via our Contact form or Anonymous Tip Form.
COLD CASE: The story of a teen boy who disappeared is told yet again, WHO-TV Channel 13, Nov. 25, 2010