In the darkness of early morning, Gary Loesch drove his car down a tree-lined gravel road. He stopped, rolled his car window down and shoved newspapers into two bright yellow Spokesman-Review paper boxes.
After 3-1/2 years of delivering newspapers along the same route, this would be his last delivery.
Before Loesch could roll the window back up, a bullet had pierced his head.
Loesch, 56, a route driver with a reputation for hard work and timely delivery, died Monday morning. Sheriff’s officials are investigating his death as a homicide.
Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies found Loesch dead inside his car, still parked next to the paper boxes about 7 a.m. Two stacks of newspapers lay undisturbed in the back seat of his Toyota Camry. Blood was pooled in the front passenger seat where he fell after the assault.
His brother, another carrier for The SpokesmanReview, said the father of two was carrying no money and had no enemies.
“It’s senseless,” said Randy Loesch. “You couldn’t ask for a better person.”
“He was a good friend, beside working with him,” said Bob Marshall, circulation district manager at the Idaho Spokesman-Review. “He was just a good person.”
Loesch, a Post Falls resident, began delivering The SpokesmanReview in June 1992. He and his wife distributed about 300 newspapers a day. He also helped deliver papers on the weekends.
On Monday, he was about halfway through his route when he was killed east of Post Falls, in a neighborhood just off Ohio Match Road.
Two nearby residents think they heard the gunfire. Russ Greenfield said he and his girlfriend were startled awake at about 3:30 a.m. by what they thought was the booming noise of a gunshot.
They live about a block from where Loesch was found. The two looked out of their mobile home window, but saw nothing.
However, “We heard a car leave here at a high rate of speed,” Greenfield said. “We could hear the gravel spinning.”
The two got up at 5:50 a.m. As they drank their morning coffee, they noticed Loesch’s car parked in the middle of the road. The lights were on, the driver’s side window was rolled down, and it was raining. Greenfield waited an hour, becoming more suspicious as the car batteries gave out and the lights slowly dimmed.
“I thought, ‘This isn’t right,”’ he said. At 6:50 a.m., he called police.
Marshall knew something was wrong when customers on Loesch’s route began complaining they weren’t getting their paper.
“He’s always on time,” Marshall said. “He’s a perfectionist. I don’t think he’s ever missed anybody.”
Loesch’s brother was also worried. “He told me he would be back by 5:30 and it was 8 a.m. and no phone call, no nothing,” Randy Loesch said.
Randy and Gary Loesch’s 25-year-old son went looking for the missing man. By the time they found him, sheriff’s detectives had already arrived.
Kootenai County sheriff’s Capt. Ben Wolfinger said no weapon was found at the scene. There were no signs of a struggle and no indication that the victim had been robbed, Wolfinger said. No one has been arrested.
Marshall said the carriers do not collect cash payments at that time of the morning and said carriers do not usually carry large amounts of money with them.
The Spokesman-Review employs more than 125 carriers in the Coeur d’Alene/Sandpoint area. Almost all are adults, Marshall said. This is the first time an Idaho carrier has been hurt, he said.
Two Spokane newspaper carriers were killed in the past. David L. Ritchey, 32, was beaten to death in 1987. In 1976, 13-year-old Nanette Martin was murdered after she disappeared from her paper route.
Randy Loesch delivered papers on a route near his brother. “He knew everybody and got along with everybody,” Randy said.
Gary Loesch had helped Randy move here from California in September.
The two brothers had not lived near each other for 25 years.
“We always talked about me coming up here and getting together and building a house together,” Randy Loesch said. “We were going to try to be a family again.”
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