‘Mom, we’re going to be on TV today’
Dana Gouge was an infant in 1963 when his parents, Forest and Aiko Gouge, moved to Tonganoxie. He was their sixth child, and two more would follow.
Aiko and Forest had met in Japan, when he was serving in the U.S. Army and she worked on a military base.
Dana and his brothers and sisters grew up in a Tonganoxie that was smaller and more rural than it is today. He attended grade school a block from his home, ran errands at the grocery store, a half-block in the other direction, and went to Sunday school at the Methodist Church, just down the street from the family's modest two-story house. In the hot summer afternoons, he'd walk to the city pool three blocks away. In the evenings, he'd head out to the high school ball field to play on John McCaffrey's baseball team.
In the meantime, he attended school, and as his mother said, "He was a pretty good kid. ... He never gave me any problems at all."
From junior high on, about the time he set the seventh-grade record for throwing the discus (112 feet, 11 inches -- a record that still stands today), he knew he wanted to be a police officer.
Dana Gouge said one of his high school teachers, Phil Lobb, played a strong role in influencing him when he was a teenager.
"He, for some reason, was kind of a mentor for me," Gouge said. "He would always, whenever he'd see me doing something that I shouldn't be doing, he'd pull me aside and talk to me about it."
Phil Lobb and his wife, Marilyn, who are retired, have stayed in touch with Gouge.
Lobb said he wasn't surprised at his former student's success and he described him as being "honest, fair and very bright."
"The greatest thing I remember about Dana is that he was a very creative and very intelligent young man," Lobb said. "There was no question in my mind where he could go if he could just go there -- and he certainly did."
Aiko Gouge said that during the BTK investigation, she was aware her son was working on the case.
"I would ask him, 'How's it going,' and all he could tell me was, 'We're still working on it,'" Aiko Gouge said. "Till the very end -- when he called me one morning and said, 'Mom, we're going to be on TV today.'"