Eugene Wade Martin was born on the 17th of August, 1970 and was last seen on August 12, 1984 between 5:30am and 6:00am whilst delivering newspapers in Des Moines, Iowa. Eugene was just 13 years old when he went missing, he weighed 110lbs, and was 5’0”. Eugene was last seen wearing a grey and white striped midriff t-shirt with red sleeves, blue jeans, and blue Trax sneakers with white diagonal stripes. He is a caucasian male, with brown hair, brown eyes, and he has a scar on his right knee. One of his wrists has a healed fracture. His nickname is Gene. Eugene’s hobbies included football, fishing, skating, video games and TV.
It was an early Sunday morning on August 12, 1984, when Eugene left his house at approximately 5:00am to deliver the Des Moines Register newspaper in Des Moines in Iowa. As the Iowa State Fair was in town during his time delivering papers, Eugene wanted to make some extra money, so he set out alone to deliver the newspapers this day, though he usually went with his older stepbrother. I couldn’t find any information on why Eugene went out without his stepbrother on this particular day.
From this point forward, it was very hard to find an exact time stamp that these events happened in that morning, the times that witnesses mention varies in their statements.
At around 5:00am to 5:45am, at SouthWest 12th Street and Highview Drive, a witness claims they saw Eugene talking to a clean cut, white male in his thought to be 30’s to 40’s, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, with a medium build. This lead was followed, but nothing came of it and the man has yet to be identified. Though from this, authorities treated this case as a possible kidnapping. It appeared that Eugene and this man were having a ‘father-son’ like conversation, so it seemed like nothing out of the ordinary. The confusing thing about this event is that other witnesses claimed to see Eugene talking to this man at around 5:45am to 6:05am, meaning that Eugene would’ve had to be talking to this man for about an hour if all witnesses statements are correct, which to me seems like a very long time if Eugene didn’t know this man.
At around 6:10am to 6:15am, Eugene’s newspaper bag with 10 folded papers still inside, was found just outside of Des Moines. Eugene was nowhere to be seen. Customers began calling in to let Eugene’s manager know that their newspapers hadn’t been delivered, so Eugene’s route manager then called Eugene’s father, Don Martin at approximately 7:15am, an hour after Eugene’s bag had been found. He called to let him know that Eugenes bag hadn’t been collected from the corner of SouthWest 14th street and Highview Drive street. (I’m assuming that Eugene’s route manager knew of the bag being left, so as to why he called Don an hour later and not earlier I’m unsure of. ) At 7:15am, the manager then called Don back to notify him that the bag and papers were still unclaimed, so Don called the authorities to tell them that Eugene was missing, and Eugene’s manager went out, found the bag and delivered the rest of the papers. Eugene has not been heard of or seen since this day.
At approximately 8:40am, the search for Eugene began, they began by searching through corn fields in the area. Don Martin also tried to coordinate search efforts with neighbours and volunteers, though nothing was ever found of Eugene.
Both Eugene’s father and stepmother divorced sometime after he went missing, and now both of his parents and his stepmother are deceased. Don Martin passed away in 2010, never knowing what happened to Eugene. His case remains unsolved.
Jim Rowley, the detective in Eugene’s case, says that it still haunts him to this day, not knowing what happened to Eugene. Don and Jim use to meet up every Friday evening to discuss new leads, up until Don’s passing. Jim would look into every lead that Don had, but sadly nothing ever came of them.
Don Martins sister, Jeannie McDowel says that loosing Eugene really effected him. He became withdrawn and looked endlessly into trying to find out what happened to his son.
This case has so many unanswered questions, and it’s heartbreaking to know that his father and stepmother never knew what happened to Eugene on that day. I personally believe this case is connected to the disappearance of 12 year old Johnny David Gosch, as do many others. The boy’s were both newspaper carriers of the Des Moines area, and their disappearances were only 2 years apart. Much like Eugene, Johnny seemed to vanish into thin air too. I believe Eugene was kidnapped that morning of August 12th and could possibly still be alive. He would be 48 years old this year. Below is an age progressed photo of Eugene.