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xx Shawn Hornbeck, HAS BEEN FOUND ALIVE
« Thread started on: Sep 10th, 2004, 6:04pm »

Website for Shawn Hornbeck:
www.shawnhornbeck.com

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« Last Edit: Jan 13th, 2007, 12:33pm by FindCarrie » User IP Logged

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xx For Shawn on Oct. 6th
« Reply #1 on: Oct 6th, 2004, 06:30am »

Thinking of Shawn today. He disappeared while riding his bicyle two years ago today. Hoping that answers are found for Shawn and that he can come home soon.

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xx Family Holds Vigil for Shawn Hornbeck
« Reply #2 on: Oct 6th, 2004, 06:51am »

RICHWOODS - Marking two years since 11-year-old Shawn Damien Hornbeck disappeared from this north Washington County community, the family and friends have announced there will be a vigil Wednesday evening beginning at 6 p.m.

The solemn event will take place at the United Methodist Church on Route A, the same location that served for months as the headquarters for the Shawn Hornbeck Search and Rescue Team's operations. Pam and Craig Akers, parents of the missing boy, have said more details about the vigil will be announced but they have invited the public to join them in the observance.

Hornbeck left home on his bicycle early on the Sunday afternoon of Oct. 6, 2002, to visit a friend who lived only a short distance away. The family and investigators say he never showed up at the friend's house, but was seen riding his bicycle around this small community for much of the afternoon.

Investigators have said the last confirmed sighting of Shawn was at about 4 p.m. in the area of the Richwoods School. He was still on his bicycle at that time.

Pam Akers said Shawn was supposed to be home by 5 p.m. and when he did not arrive by 5:30 family members went looking for him. Within an hour, a community-wide search was launched by the Richwoods Fire Department and the Washington County Sheriff's Department. It turned up no sign of Shawn nor his bicycle.

The following day a massive search was organized with hundreds of volunteers coming from miles around. It included professional search and rescue units from major fire departments, individuals and organizations who joined in, four-wheelers and equestrian mounted units. This search went on for two weeks and still failed to turn up a single piece of physical evidence shedding any light on what happened to the boy.

A law enforcement task force that included the FBI, Highway Patrol and Washington County Sheriff's Department was also formed. It conducted an intensive initial investigation and two years later investigators are still working on the case.

The recently established Washington County Grand Jury has also interviewed people regarding the disappearance, but thus far there have been no public announcements in regard to its investigation.

In addition to information of the Shawn Hornbeck Search and Rescue Team, the Akers have led the organization of the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation. It conducts child identification programs at public gatherings throughout the region.

The search and rescue team, which includes a mobile command post and canine teams, continues to conduct searches for Shawn two years after his disappearance. It responds to any new tip that might be received, but also continues to cover much of the rustic countryside around Richwoods where previous searches were conducted.

That same team has also responded to situations where other children and even adults have disappeared or become lost.

Shawn's disappearance has been featured on numerous nationally broadcast television programs, including "America's Most Wanted." Pam and Craig Akers have also appeared on many network and syndicated television talk show programs to spread the word about their missing son.

The search and rescue team's command center still maintains a 24-hour hot line to which anyone can place a toll-free call with any information they might have. That can be reached by calling 1-866-400-5353.

The public's continued interest in the case is clearly depicted by the participation on the message board of the team's Internet home page. There are often dozens of entries on the board each day. They sometimes ask questions or make suggestions. The messages also announce activities that are ongoing, but most of them are messages of encouragement to the family and friends of the missing boy. The home page can be reached at shawnhornbeck.com.

The vigil Wednesday evening will not be the first held for Shawn. Hundreds turned out to a somber gathering on July 17, 2003, which would have been the boy's 12th birthday anniversary. There was also a vigil on the first anniversary of his disappearance.


http://www.mydjconnection.com/articles/2004/10/04/community/news4.txt
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xx Evening of tears marks anniversary of disappearanc
« Reply #3 on: Oct 8th, 2004, 10:44am »

RICHWOODS - There was hardly a dry eye among those gathered here Wednesday night when the strains of "Calling All Angels" was played as a candlelight vigil concluded the observance marking the second anniversary of when 11-year-old Shawn Damian Hornbeck disappeared.

It was an evening of prayer, songs and poems - but it was also an evening of tears. Adults wept, as did children. Even many of the normally "cool" teenagers conceal their emotions.

The observance, called "Remembering an Angel," was hosted by Pam and Craig Akers, the parents of the missing boy. They were joined by Shawn's grandparents, two sisters, and other family members. Most of the approximately 150 people in attendance have been involved in the search for Shawn in one way or another for the entire two years.

"Two years ago today our son vanished from the face of the earth," Craig Akers told those assembled as the service opened. In the time since, volunteers and members of the Shawn Hornbeck Search and Rescue Team have searched "hundreds of miles of roads and thousands of acres of rugged land."

The father said searches continue to be conducted on an "as needed basis" when any new tip or lead comes in. Sadly enough, Akers added, most of what we are getting now we have gotten 20 or 30 times before. There is very little new information coming in.

With a solemn look, Craig Akers looked over the crowd and said, "We reaffirm out commitment to bring Shawn home."

Pam Akers had a slightly different message - one of anger - directed to "those who are responsible" for Shawn's disappearance and for "those who know something and will not come forward." The mother told those "who keep talking to put up or shut up."

She also told "those responsible" that "no matter how long it takes, it won't go away. We will keep going until Shawn is found and brought home."

"I hoped and prayed this day would never come because I was sure he would be found by now," Pam Akers said.

The mother closed her comments with a message intended for her missing son.

"Shawn, I want you to know wherever you are, we will find you and bring you home!"

To everyone in the area Doris Duff is known as "grandma." She is the maternal grandmother of Shawn and another regular worker at the team's command center. Over the past two years she has become "grandma" to thousands who visit the message board on the team's Internet home page.

Standing next to a large display of photographs set up inside the entrance to the church, Duff proudly pointed to pictures of Shawn during different stages of his early life. She smiled as she pointed out one of him getting on the bus for his first day of school.

"He had to have that hair straight up," Duff laughed. "We worked on it for an hour and probably used a whole container of stiffener, but it had to be perfect."

Duff then pointed to young William Drennen, a teen-aged cousin of the missing boy. He lives next door to Pam and Craig and walked Shawn to school every morning. When Drennen started high school, it was Shawn who became an escort for another younger boy each day.

Lester Akers, Shawn's paternal grandfather, lives in Leadwood but has virtually moved here to participate in searches and other activities.

Diane Drennen, an aunt who lived next door to Shawn from the day he was born, tearfully told those assembled, "He will remain 11 years old in my eyes until the day he comes home."

http://www.mydjconnection.com/articles/2004/10/07/community/news1.txt
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xx For Shawn on 10-06-05
« Reply #4 on: Oct 6th, 2005, 8:43pm »

Thinking of Shawn today on this unfortunate three year anniversary since he disappeared. Hoping that he can be found soon. He's still missing but not forgotten

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xx Hornbeck family still vigilant after four years
« Reply #5 on: Oct 6th, 2006, 09:02am »

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Family, friends gather for remembrance ceremony
By TERESA RESSEL\Daily Journal Staff Writer

RICHWOODS - Family and friends will gather Friday night to show their love and support for Shawn Hornbeck who disappeared from this Washington County community four years ago.

Shawn Hornbeck, 11 years old at the time, disappeared from Richwoods on Oct. 6, 2002. Investigators still don't know what happened to the boy.

A remembrance ceremony will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Richwoods Lions Club on Route A. The public is invited to attend.

During the ceremony, a laser engraved granite photo of Shawn will be dedicated. The photo will be placed in Shawn's garden at the Lions Club and will join the bronze plaque inscribed, “Missing from our lives ... forever present in our hearts” that was placed there last year.

A newly-released age progression of Shawn prepared by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will be on display. The rendering shows what Shawn may look like now.

According to police reports, Shawn left his home in Richwoods on his neon-green 20-inch NEXT "ShockZone" bike early on that Sunday afternoon to visit a friend who lived only a short distance away. The family and investigators say he never showed up at the friend's house, but was seen riding his bicycle around this small community for much of the afternoon.

At the time Shawn was last seen he was wearing an orange-colored T-shirt with the word “Astros” across the chest in black lettering. He was also wearing blue jeans and white Nike shoes with a blue stripe on them. Shawn was not wearing a jacket or bike helmet at the time that he was last seen.

If you have information call the Hornbeck Foundation at (866) 400-5353 or the sheriff's department at (573) 438-5478.

Besides the sheriff's department, the highway patrol's Division of Drug and Crime Control, the FBI and the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation are investigating the disappearance.

“We have not been informed of any new developments by any of the agencies involved in the investigation,” said Craig Akers, Shawn's stepfather. “We continue to receive information by e-mail, phone and in person, but as of yet nothing has yielded any concrete evidence. We do have an investigator working on the case, and interviews are being conducted. Searches of several specific areas were conducted recently by our team as a result of information we have received, but nothing was found that has definitely been connected with Shawn's disappearance.”

The Washington County Sheriff's Department did not return several phone messages left by the Daily Journal.

http://www.mydjconnection.com/articles/2006/10/05/community/news1.txt
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xx Missing Boys William 'Ben' Ownby, Shawn Hornbeck F
« Reply #6 on: Jan 12th, 2007, 7:19pm »

BEAUFORT, Mo. — A 13-year-old boy who vanished from the gravel road near his home five days ago was found alive about 60 miles away in a suburban St. Louis home, along with a 15-year-old boy missing since 2002, authorities said Friday.

The boys were found in a Kirkwood home belonging to Michael Devlin, 41, who has been charged with one count of first-degree kidnapping, Sheriff Gary Toelke said.

The sheriff said both boys appeared unharmed. William Ownby, who goes by Ben, appeared somewhat dazed as he walked inside the sheriff's department, where he was reunited with his family Friday night.

Click here for more Crime news.

The straight-A student and Boy Scout was last seen after he stepped off his school bus and ran toward his home down a gravel road on Monday.

A friend who left the bus with the boy told authorities that after the two parted, he saw a small white pickup with a camper shell speeding away from where Ben had been walking.

Searchers on foot, horseback and all-terrain vehicles looked for Ben in the hilly area about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Toelke said the break in the case came Thursday night. Kirkwood city police officers were serving a warrant on an apartment complex when they noticed a white truck matching the description of a vehicle authorities had been searching for in the Ownby investigation.

Kirkwood officers contacted the Franklin County Sheriff's Department and determined where the owner of the truck was and then searched Devlin's house.

Toelke said authorities were surprised to find another boy who identified himself as Shawn Hornbeck.

Hornbeck disappeared from his home in rural Washington County in October 2002, when he was 11. He went for a bike ride and never returned.

Click here to see the FBI's missing persons report on Shawn Hornbeck.

Hornbeck's parents, Pam and Craig Akers, were coming to meet their son in Union, the Franklin County seat, Toelke said.

His parents have devoted themselves to bringing missing people home since Hornbeck vanished over four years ago from his hometown 65 miles southwest of St. Louis.

His parents, dozens of volunteers and sniffer dogs searched for weeks. The couple set up a Web site and listened to anyone who offered a tip.

Craig Akers, Shawn's stepfather, quit his job as a software designer to devote his time to a foundation bearing his son's name. They depleted their savings, borrowed against their retirement and talked to psychics. The financial strain forced both of them back to work.

A retired police officer volunteered to work on the case until Shawn was found.

Even though so much time had passed, Pam Akers said her son is frozen in her memory as an 11-year-old boy.

"It's been four years," she said on the anniversary of his disappearance last fall. "But for me, it's just been one long continuous day."

Toelke said authorities were still investigating the motive behind the abductions. Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks said more charges are likely to be filed.

"There are a lot of things we don't know right now," Toelke said.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,243479,00.html
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xx Re: Shawn Hornbeck, Oct. 6, 2002 - MO
« Reply #7 on: Jan 13th, 2007, 12:33pm »

Richwoods, MO --
Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby disappeared 41/2 years and 40 miles apart. Police were stunned to find both boys -- alive and apparently well -- in the same suburban St. Louis apartment.

The shocking development Friday was hailed as a miracle in two rural Missouri communities -- Richwoods, where Shawn was 11 when he disappeared on Oct. 6, 2002 -- and Beaufort 40 miles to the north, where Ben, 13, hadn't been seen since getting off a school bus Monday afternoon.

"Shawn is a miracle here," his mother, Pam Akers, said at a news conference Saturday at a grade school in his hometown Richwoods. "We're glad to have him home. I still feel like I'm in a dream, only this time it's a good dream, not the nightmare I've had four-and-a-half years."

Shawn, now 15, appeared with his parents at the news conference but did not speak. He smiled often, his mother's arm draped around him, and seemed at ease. He was much bigger than pictures of the missing 11-year-old, his hair darker and longer.

A routine search warrant led police to investigate the Kirkwood, Mo., apartment dweller, Michael Devlin, 41, an Imo's Pizza manager and part-time funeral home worker. He was charged with first-degree kidnapping and held in the Franklin County Jail on $1 million bond.

An elated Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke, who headed the search for Ben, began a news conference Friday by telling reporters, "We have some good news and we have some probably unbelievable news."

The key to finding the boys was a beat-up white pickup truck spotted by a schoolmate of Ben's who got off the bus at the same time. The friend saw the pickup speeding away about the time Ben vanished from the gravel road near his home.

On Thursday night, Kirkwood city police officers were serving a warrant on an apartment complex when they noticed a white truck matching the description. They contacted the Franklin County Sheriff's Department and determined where the owner of the truck was, then searched Devlin's home Friday and found the boys.

After being reunited with their families, both boys were taken to SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis for evaluation.

Shawn's stepfather, Craig Akers, said the couple was in their car driving home from work about 4 p.m. Friday when the Washington County prosecutor called and asked him to pull over. The prosecutor told Akers he was "95 percent sure" they had found Shawn.

"Those were the sweetest words I ever heard in my life," Akers said. "We spent the next couple of minutes crying."

At being reunited, "there really weren't any words," Akers said. "There was that split second of shock.

"Once I saw the face, I said, 'Oh my God, that's my son."'

Asked how Shawn was doing, Craig Akers said, "He's in good health. He's in good spirits. Obviously glad to be home."

Ben's uncle, Loyd Bailie, told The Associated Press he was escorted to the Franklin County Sheriff's Department with Ben's parents. He said Ben was delighted when he saw his parents.

"His eyes lit up like silver dollars," Bailie said.

Everyone broke into tears and Ben's parents embraced him as tightly as they could, Bailie said.

Ben seemed in good health, but was hungry. Sheriff's deputies brought in sandwiches and a honey bun and Ben instantly devoured the sweet, Bailie said.

In Kirkwood, law enforcement officials congregated outside the modest brick apartment where Devlin lived. Temporary lights and trailers were set up in the apartment complex courtyard as a cold, driving rain fell.

There were no immediate details about what was inside the apartment, or how the boys might have been detained.

A neighbor, Rick Butler, 43, said the FBI came to his door Thursday night and showed a picture of Ben, asking if he had seen him. He said he had not. But he had seen a boy he now believes was Hornbeck.

He said he saw no evidence that the boy now believed to be Hornbeck was scared or trying to get away. He had seen Devlin and the teen pitch a tent in the courtyard. On another occasion, he found the boy's cell phone and returned it to him.

"I didn't see or hear anything odd or unusual from the apartment," Butler said. "I just figured them for father and son."

The two disappearances had similarities. Both boys seemed to vanish without a trace, both from quiet rural areas. Richwoods is about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis, in Washington County. Beaufort is about 60 miles from the city, and about 40 miles north of Richwoods.

Shawn Hornbeck disappeared from his rural home when he was 11. He went for a bike ride and never returned. His parents, dozens of volunteers and sniffer dogs searched for weeks. The couple set up a Web site and listened to anyone who offered a tip.

In the years since, Shawn's parents, Pam and Craig Akers, devoted themselves to missing child cases. They were reunited with their son in Union, the Franklin County seat and where the sheriff's department is.

Craig Akers quit his job as a software designer to devote his time to a foundation bearing his son's name. They depleted their savings, borrowed against their retirement and talked to psychics. The financial strain forced both of them back to work.

Toelke said authorities were still investigating the motive behind the abductions. Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks said more charges are likely.

"There are a lot of things we don't know right now," Toelke said.

Craig Akers said the case should provide hope for all families with missing children.

"I've said all along, 'we will not stop until we find Shawn.' Well, here we are," he said.

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xx Missing boys found: Questions accompany elation 1
« Reply #8 on: Jan 14th, 2007, 11:59am »

By KEVIN MURPHY
The Kansas City Star



Two kidnapped Missouri boys — one held for four years, the other for four days — emerged calm and smiling before the public Saturday, but questions remained about their captivity.

Authorities were mum on what Shawn Hornbeck, 15, and Ben Ownby, 13, went through at the hands of their alleged abductor, a suburban St. Louis pizza restaurant manager who had no apparent criminal record.

The euphoria of the last two days was evident Saturday as Shawn, Ben and their parents held nationally televised news conferences to recount their dramatic reunions after police found the boys unharmed Friday in a Kirkwood apartment.

Now comes the gritty process of piecing together the details of the almost unbelievable crime that thrust Shawn and Ben into the national spotlight and will keep them there for months to come.

Troubling and potentially embarrassing questions must be asked. Psychological wounds must heal. Foremost in many minds is how an abductor could have held Shawn captive four years despite an intense search that included the placement of posters around Kirkwood.

“It’s just mind-boggling that it was so easy to hide someone in plain sight,” said Craig Akers, Shawn’s stepfather. “It’s hard to believe anyone could be that brazen.”

Akers said Shawn told him Friday that he saw one poster on a bench in a neighborhood supermarket — and he didn’t like the picture.

Both boys were abducted in rural areas southwest of St. Louis — Shawn on Oct. 6, 2002, in Washington County and Ben on Monday in Franklin County. Michael Devlin, 41, is being held on a kidnapping charge as the investigation continues.

“We still have quite a bit of work to do on Mr. Devlin,” said Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke.

Police found the boys unharmed after officers spotted a pickup truck at Devlin’s apartment building that matched one seen when Ben was abducted.

Pam Akers called the recovery of her son, Shawn, “a miracle.”

“We have a lot of catching up do,” she said. “He has grown up on me, that’s for sure.”

Shawn was 11 when he was abducted while riding his bike.

Craig Akers said Shawn came home Friday to find his clothes in his dresser just the way he left them four years ago.

“I guess we are going to have to get rid of those and find some new ones,” Akers said.

Doris Ownby said she and her husband, William Ownby Sr., had not talked to Ben about his captivity. Ben was kidnapped after getting off his school bus, authorities said.

“We are just excited and happy to have him home,” Doris Ownby said. “We grabbed him and didn’t let him go.”

Neither boy spoke at his family’s news conference. The events were held about two hours apart Saturday morning. Each boy smiled often and hugged his parents.

Rick Butler, who lives in an apartment building next to Devlin’s, told The Kansas City Star on Saturday that he often would see Devlin in the parking lot and would occasionally see Shawn. Butler said he once saw the two pitch a tent on the building’s lawn. He assumed they were father and son.

“It made me think they were getting ready for a camping trip,” Butler said.

Butler said that about a year ago he found a cell phone on the ground that turned out to be Devlin’s. Shawn went to Butler’s apartment to pick it up.

“He just came over and said thanks,” Butler said. “He seemed a little nervous but didn’t act like there was anything terribly wrong.” Butler said he now wonders why the boy didn’t say, “I’m in trouble, this guy is keeping me over there. Call for help.”

Craig Akers said Shawn did not go to school during the four years he was missing. Kirkwood district spokeswoman Ginger Fletcher said that school officials had no indication that neighbors called to check on why Shawn was not in class. Fletcher said that an adult would not have needed approval to homeschool Shawn but would have had to prove he was if anyone investigated.

Authorities would not say Saturday what they knew about either boy’s captivity.

Psychological experts contacted by The Star on Saturday said an abductor could use many techniques to exert control.

Grace Ketterman, a noted Kansas City psychiatrist, compared the experience to the Stockholm syndrome, a condition in which captives begin to identify with or become sympathetic to their captors.

“When kids are abducted, they may be threatened severely,” Ketterman said. “The person who kidnaps them may use brainwashing techniques. They can really convince the child he belongs to them.”

The exertion of control can be so great that the child may be convinced not to talk with playmates or strangers and may even ignore his own picture on a bus-stop poster.

Ketterman said that many times the child is told that if he tries to escape, his family will be killed.

The control can be even stronger if there also is sexual abuse. Sex can be “a powerful force” over a child, she said.

Ketterman said that helping children who have lived a long time with an abductor can require intense therapy for the child and family. Parents must be patient because it can take time to rekindle family bonds and the child may have long-term trouble with self-identity.

David Barker, an Overland Park therapist, said that sometimes the child reaches a point where he feels safe with his kidnapper and won’t seek help.

Barker said it will be an “emotional and difficult task to integrate the kid (Shawn) back into the family, even if that is possible.” That could require therapy to help the family deal with feelings of guilt, anger, insecurity and uncertainty.

“Parents may feel guilty about letting this happen to their child. They may feel ashamed that everyone knows about it. For the kid, there may be the feeling, ‘Why didn’t my parents come and get me?’ ”

The reunion of the family can be traumatic.

Barker said that Shawn might feel the same as a soldier returning from war. The family may have adjusted to his absence.

Craig Akers said Saturday that he had not discussed the captivity with Shawn.

“That will come in due time, and when Shawn is ready to discuss it, we will,” Akers said.

Devlin’s family released a statement Saturday expressing their gratitude to local authorities and the FBI “for their professionalism in safely reuniting Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck with their families,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Web site.

“Just as we are relieved that both Ben and Shawn are now safe, we hope that Michael will be safe as the facts of his case are revealed,” said the statement, released through a law firm.

Devlin, by most accounts, seemed an unlikely suspect in a kidnapping. Besides working as an assistant manager for an Imo’s Pizza restaurant near his home, he worked two late-night shifts each week taking phone calls at Bopp Chapel, a Kirkwood funeral home.

“He was prompt, well-mannered and efficient in receiving calls,” the funeral home’s operators said in a statement Saturday. Funeral director Matt Shockley called Devlin quiet and said Devlin never talked about his personal life.

Andrew Habben of Kirkwood said he was surprised so few people in the tight-knit community of 26,000 seemed to know Devlin or Shawn.

“It goes to show you that you never know. Everyone’s got their own life,” Habben said.

Devlin is scheduled to make his first court appearance this week in Franklin County on a charge of kidnapping Ben Ownby, but other charges are possible, Prosecutor Bob Parks said. Washington County, where Shawn Hornbeck’s family lives, has not filed charges.

The FBI also may file charges, based on evidence recovered from Devlin’s apartment, agent Roland Corvington said at a Saturday news conference.

Corvington said that when FBI agents entered Devlin’s apartment Friday, Ben asked them, “Are you going to take me home?” They then asked Shawn to identify himself.

“After that, it was quite euphoric, obviously,” Corvington said.

The boys’ parents said Saturday that they hope their sons’ safe return gives hope to the families of other kidnap victims.

“Good things can happen,” Craig Akers said. “Things don’t always end badly.”
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/16456837.htm
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xx Oprah Winfrey Interviews Parents Of Kidnapped
« Reply #9 on: Jan 18th, 2007, 3:02pm »

By Nancy Connors
Best Syndication Article

The Oprah Winfrey Show will be airing an exclusive interview with the parents of the Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. Shawn was kidnapped more than four years ago and was found while police were investigating the January 8th kidnapping of Ben. The accused kidnapper, 41 year old Michael Devlin, lived in suburban St. Louis Missouri and worked at a pizzeria for 25 years.

Earlier reports have stated that Shawn had access to the Internet and was free to come and go. In fact, according to an Associated Press report, the boy was picked up past curfew on three occasions. The police drove him back to Devlin’s apartment, unaware of Shawn’s real identity.

The big question is why didn’t Shawn try to escape? Was he afraid for his or his family’s life, or did he not want to return home? Oprah asked Shawn privately why he never called his parents; Shawn said he was "terrified." During his captivity Shawn admits to sleeping, watching TV and playing video games.

Shawn also played with friends, according to the Oprah Winfrey report. When questioned about his family, Shawn says he told people a made-up story concocted by his alleged kidnapper. Though Shawn did not elaborate on the story, he admits that he told people he was home schooled, even though he didn't go the entire four years.

Shawn’s mother said "I honestly and truly in my heart feel that in some way or another he had to have felt either he was going to be threatened or his sisters or myself or his dad. I honestly believe if the alleged person would have said, 'You can leave at any time. There will be no recourse,' everything would be fine and Shawn would have come home in a heartbeat."

Shawn said he was not ready to discuss the details of his 51 months of captivity. Oprah asked Shawn’s parents, Craig and Pam Akers, if they believe the boy had been sexually abused. In what is described as a dramatic moment, both nodded and said yes. The Akers have not asked their son what happened on the advice of child advocacy experts, but they are convinced he did not contact them out of fear for his life or the lives of family members.

http://www.bestsyndication.com/?q=011807_oprah_winfrey_kidnapping.htm
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xx Re: Shawn Hornbeck, HAS BEEN FOUND ALIVE
« Reply #10 on: Jan 19th, 2007, 8:57pm »

God works in mysterious ways and I thank him for giving all of us hope. I'm estatic for them and their families. I hope they can all heal from this traumatic experience but for those of us still searching for their loved ones it does bring up the word "HOPE".

That's all we can ask for.

Welcome home Shawn and Ben
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xx 1 Boy Fades Into Shadows in Devlin Case
« Reply #11 on: Jan 26th, 2007, 07:09am »

By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD


BEAUFORT, Mo. - Shawn Hornbeck has a new Web site and is getting a new home. Mitchell Hults was given a truck, a $5,000 scholarship and free tickets to see his favorite comedian.

When asked what kind of big gifts have been given to 13-year-old Ben Ownby, his uncle laughed.

"Um, nothing," Loyd Bailie said. "Lots of people calling."

That's just fine with Ben's parents, Don and Doris Ownby. For four days after their son was abducted Jan. 8, they tried to remain hopeful even as the chances of finding Ben alive grew thin.

Now, they are just happy to be out of the spotlight and healing with their son, Bailie said.

They're not looking for gifts from strangers.

"We're looking at material things here that, yeah, they would be nice to have, but the most important part about this whole thing is that Ben is back and Ben is doing well," Bailie said. The parents did not want to comment for this story, he said.

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The three boys unwittingly swept up in the global media storm dubbed the "Missouri Miracle" have taken very different paths in the public eye. Two have embraced the attention while one has faded into the shadows.

Mitchell, 15, has become the hero of the story _ the eagle-eyed youth who spotted a pickup speeding from the site of Ben's abduction. The tip led authorities to the apartment of 41-year-old Michael Devlin, where they found Shawn and Ben. Devlin is charged with two counts of kidnapping.

Shawn has become the tale's miracle. Abducted more than four years ago, the boy last seen by his parents as a spunky 11-year old came home a lanky 15-year-old with faint sideburns, bushy hair and a lip ring.

Ben and Shawn appeared together publicly only once, on Jan. 12., when police brought them from Devlin's home to the Franklin County Sheriff's Department. They walked into the building in front of a crowd of shocked and tearful onlookers.

Interviews suggest the boys have not spoken with one another since. The boys and their families have taken markedly different stances with the media.

Just days after the boys were freed, Shawn appeared with his parents, Craig and Pamela Akers, on the "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Don and Doris Ownby appeared, too, but kept Ben off camera.

Shawn's parents became adept at dealing with the media years ago. They formed the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation to bring attention to their son's case and the plight of other missing children.

The foundation this week launched a Web site containing photos of Shawn and message boards where more than 1,100 notes have been posted for the boy and his family.

On Tuesday, a St. Louis company announced it would build a home on the Akers' property in Richwoods. Ground was to be broken Friday, but the family _ which has asked for privacy so Shawn can begin healing _ was not scheduled to attend.

Mitchell was honored at a school assembly earlier this month. On Wednesday, he received a new truck from DaimlerChrysler and was later honored at Gov. Matt Blunt's State of the State address.

Mitchell was given backstage passes to see comedian Larry the Cable Guy perform in Columbia on Thursday, and the comedian even posted a message on his Web site praising the boy.

"When I first saw Mitchell giving a description of the truck earlier in the week, I told my wife, 'now that's a good country boy right there,'" it said.

On Friday, the teen was to receive a $5,000 scholarship from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The Ownbys are elated that Mitchell is receiving such praise, Bailie said.

But the family has taken a less conspicuous path. Ben still has not returned to school, instead attending counseling sessions to help him overcome the trauma of his abduction and captivity, Bailie said.

The family already feels indebted to friends and neighbors who helped search for Ben and brought food to the house to feed volunteers.

"There was enough that we could have kept a camp going for several weeks," Bailie said.

http://www.lompocrecord.com/articles/2007/01/26/ap/us/d8msrj5o2.txt
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xx Who is Michael J. Devlin?
« Reply #12 on: Jan 29th, 2007, 09:57am »

By Todd C. Frankel, Matthew Hathaway and Elizabethe Holland

ST. LOUIS - They've had two weeks to reconsider every detail. They've scavenged their memories for any clue, any inkling that Michael J. Devlin was something other than the lonely guy who managed a pizza shop in Kirkwood, Mo.

Bad family? Far from it.

Odd behavior? Hardly.

Devlin smoked, but he didn't drink. He loved video games, such as the fantasy role-player Final Fantasy XI, but that is not unusual for adults these days. He had a temper, but those who have seen it say it came off more cantankerous than malicious. There was no criminal record beyond traffic tickets.

He was just a local boy who seemed to be running in place - working for the same boss for 25 years with little prospect of moving ahead. He was a 41-year-old man who seemed to live alone while his friends moved on and got married. He was the little kid, nicknamed "Chicken Little" by his father, who grew up to be a man nicknamed "Devo" by his friends.

Nothing about Devlin's behavior stood out, even in the harsh light cast by criminal allegations, according to interviews with people who have known him during the years.

And the intervening two weeks have only reinforced that idea.

"Up until that Friday night a couple weeks ago," said Mike Prosperi, who employed Devlin at his Imo's pizza shop for more than two decades, "everything was as normal as can be."

On Jan. 12, authorities rescued two missing boys, Shawn Hornbeck and William "Ben" Ownby, from Devlin's apartment in Kirkwood. Shawn, now 15, had been missing for more than four years, snatched in 2002 while riding his bike in rural Richwoods. Ben, 13, was gone four days from his home in rural Beaufort. Devlin has been charged with kidnapping in both cases.

The story was remarkable - and perplexing, a feeling that deepens as the details of Devlin's life slip out.

Born in November 1965, Devlin was still an infant when he was adopted by James and Joyce Devlin. His adoptive father was an insurance executive. His mother was a former airline stewardess who eventually taught at the private College School in Webster Groves.

Michael Devlin's father and mother still live in Webster Groves, a comfortable place just a few miles from where the two missing boys were found.

The parents have two biological daughters. They also adopted four boys.

Three of the four Devlin boys worked for Prosperi at Imo's. He has known the family for almost three decades.

"That family was as good as gold," Prosperi said.

The Devlin parents were feted on their 50th wedding anniversary in 2004 in a Valentine's Day column in the Webster-Kirkwood Times. The article recounted how the couple grew up just outside Philadelphia but didn't meet until both were in Boston, where they married, before moving to St. Louis for James Devlin's job.

Joyce Devlin was a Girl Scout leader who was devoted to her children.

"She is a saint," said Mildred Kent, who raised her four children in Webster Groves and gave piano lessons to some of the Devlin siblings, but not Michael.

For many years, the family attended Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Webster Groves. Brian Devlin, one of the couple's children, recalls going for Sunday services.

"They put these little suits on us, and you can imagine what suits looked like for kids back in the `70s - little checkered things and that," he said.

Brian Devlin, who in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch profile last week talked about the personal struggles that eventually estranged him from the family, said his parents were good to him and his siblings. He still has fond memories of Christmas celebrations and family vacations on Lake Michigan.

Joyce, he said, is "a really good lady." James makes "a mean barbecue." And growing up in Webster Groves, the Devlins did "everything that a normal family would do to keep you right," Brian Devlin said.

Michael Devlin was a friendly child who was picked on for being overweight, several former classmates and neighbors said.

"He was teased, and it made him a loner," said Susan Dames of Ballwin, who grew up a few houses from the Devlin family on Oakwood Avenue.

But Michael Devlin found a place for himself at Imo's, first in Webster Groves and then in Kirkwood. He began working there in high school.

He graduated from Webster Groves High in 1984. His picture is not featured in the senior yearbook. Some classmates could barely remember him. Others recall a nonthreatening teen who sat on the sidelines of life.

"The guy was just a nice guy, like a big teddy bear," said Karen Waller, who graduated in the same class.

After high school, Devlin went to work full-time at Imo's. It was there that he met a bunch of guys who would go on hunting and fishing trips. Prosperi sometimes joined them. They sometimes traveled to Two Branch Island, a remote site requiring a ferry ride to reach, in the Missouri River in St. Charles County.

Devlin also traveled to Woodland Lake Estates, a development tucked in a hilly, wooded area in northwestern Washington County. He and a friend owned a small, vacant parcel in the development.

Washington County Sheriff Kevin Schroeder has said the land served "as a connection" to Shawn's abduction 25 miles away in Richwoods, perhaps by familiarizing Devlin with the area.

Devlin obtained deer-hunting permits for the firearms seasons in 1996 though 1998, and held annual fishing licenses in 1996, 1997 and 2002, according to the Missouri Conservation Department.

Gus Nanos worked with Devlin in the 1990s and remembers an outgoing man with a quick wit. "Devo" invited co-workers to play video games and poker. Nanos, in a recent Post-Dispatch interview, even recalled Devlin in those years as "nice and thoughtful."

But Devlin's limited social circle began to fall apart as he got into his early 30s. His friends had less time to hang out. They had wives and families. Some got new jobs. Devlin stayed with Imo's, rising to be a manager but still earning less than $21,000 a year. He was always on time. He never asked for a raise.

Prosperi recalls asking Devlin why he didn't move on.

"He'd say, `Mike, I'm a lazy guy.' And that was it," Prosperi said.

If there is one curious incident in Michael Devlin's past, it centers on his toes.

In December 2002, Prosperi recalls Devlin complaining at work about his foot. He was limping. He talked about the pain to everybody. At a Devlin family Christmas party, Devlin apparently showed his foot to a family member who was a doctor, and he urged Devlin to go to the hospital immediately, Prosperi said.

Two of Devlin's toes were gangrenous and had to be amputated, according to Prosperi. He was diagnosed as a diabetic. And he struggled with his weight.

Devlin missed three months of work, from January to March 2003, Prosperi said, a recollection supported by his check of payroll records.

Prosperi said he was told that Devlin was recuperating at his parents' house, not at the South Holmes Avenue apartment in Kirkwood where he lived since July 2001. He recalls calling Devlin several times to see when he would return, and several times he spoke with Devlin's mother and Devlin himself.

"Looking back," Prosperi said, "the question on everybody's mind is, who was watching Shawn?"

Shawn Hornbeck disappeared on Oct. 6, 2002. He would've been kidnapped just a few months before Devlin apparently moved in with his parents for an extended period.

One of Devlin's brothers, Patrick, told the Post-Dispatch two weeks ago that relatives saw Michael at family gatherings but never knew of Shawn.

In recent years, Nanos recalled, Devlin became a different person: "He went from being such a teaser to a much quieter person. I felt like he had been humbled by all of his health problems. ... Years of downing Mountain Dew and smoking menthol cigarettes probably caught up with him."

At the South Holmes Avenue apartment complex, neighbors knew Devlin as a man with a temper who kept to himself and who seemed to have a son. A boy who identified himself as Shawn Devlin was seen walking in and out of the one-bedroom apartment, or riding his bike in the neighborhood.

"Nothing about Devlin jumped out at you," said Krista Jones, who has lived in the complex for six months. "We'd see him walking the courtyard with Shawn and just thought it was father and son."

Residents recall an incident last year when Devlin got upset because someone was parked in his favored parking spot. Devlin even called the Kirkwood police to settle the argument.

Beyond that, the neighbors seemed to know little about Devlin. They were even less familiar with the boy living in the apartment, knowing him primarily for the loud music he played during the day.

Prosperi, along with other co-workers of Devlin's at the pizza shop, have reconsidered even the smallest incidents to see if there was something they missed - such as how Devlin reacted to the frequent after-school flood of students from nearby Nipher Middle.

The students were between the ages of 11 and 14. They tended to make a mess. The floor got dirty. Napkin dispensers were emptied. That made Devlin upset, Prosperi recalled.

"It's not like he was looking forward to little kids coming in," Prosperi said.

Brian Devlin, who has not spoken to his brother since they were teenagers, still struggles to reconcile the image of his brother with the one painted by the allegations.

He wants to believe his brother acted out of loneliness, not something more sinister.

"I've been putting my mind all different ways around this," he said. "I just can't judge him yet."

http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/mld/ledgerenquirer/news/nation/16571381.htm
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xx Jail Transfer Denied in Mo. Kidnap Case
« Reply #13 on: Feb 16th, 2007, 09:41am »

By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD


UNION, Mo. Feb 15, 2007 (AP)— A judge on Thursday denied a jail transfer request for a pizzeria manager accused of kidnapping two boys, rejecting defense claims that a reporter's jailhouse interview with the suspect amounted to a security breach.

Agreeing with prosecutors, Judge David Tobben found no security risk in keeping Michael Devlin at the Franklin County jail.

Defense lawyers had sought the transfer to St. Louis County after Devlin agreed to be interviewed by a New York Post reporter who visited him in rural Franklin County, about 50 miles west.

"You don't have stories about guys breaking into St. Louis County (jail). Let's put it that way," defense attorney Michael Kielty said after the hearing.

The judge said the interview did not breach security because Devlin agreed to see the reporter and was protected behind bulletproof glass.

Defense lawyer Ethan Corlija said he will argue again to have Devlin transferred when Devlin appears at a yet-to-be-scheduled arraignment in St. Louis.

Devlin, 41, faces a charge of first-degree kidnapping in Franklin County in the Jan. 8 abduction of Ben Ownby, 13. He also is accused of abducting Shawn Hornbeck of Washington County at gunpoint in 2003, when Shawn was just 11.

Devlin is charged in his home of St. Louis County with 69 counts of forcibly sodomizing Shawn over four years and Ben over four days before authorities rescued the boys Jan. 12. Each charge carries a life sentence.

Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Parks announced Wednesday he also plans to charge Devlin with armed criminal action, alleging that the suspect abducted Ben at gunpoint.

While it is The Associated Press' policy not to identify alleged victims of sexual abuse in most cases, the stories of Shawn and Ben have been widely publicized and their names are now well-known. Also, their families have gone public, conducting media interviews.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2878590
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