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Before i post this story i wanted add a few comments. When Ben Owenby dissapeared on Monday Shawn Hornback came to my mind. I had a strong feeling there was a connection between them two. Following the story very closely i felt this was a child sex offender that took Ben. A predator in need of another child. This story literally made me so sick to my stomach, in which it was hard for me to watch and follow. Today was a great ending to this story

News > Missouri State News > Story

Ownby found alive -- along with missing Shawn Hornbeck



Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby



Ben Ownby, the 13-year-old Franklin County boy missing since Monday, has been found alive in Kirkwood -- as well as Shawn Hornbeck, a boy from Washington County who has been missing since 2002.

Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said officers located both boys today in an apartment in Kirkwood. He said the case broke when two Kirkwood police officers went to serve a warrant last night and noticed the white pickup truck that had been the object of an intense search in the Ownby case. Officers went to the apartment today and found both boys inside.

Hornbeck identified himself as the boy who has been missing since October 2002. Both boys appeared to be in good health, Toelke said.

One person has been charged in the case, identified as Michael Devlin, 41,Toelke said. He was being held in lieu of $1 million bond and being questioned as the news of the boys' recovery was announced. Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Parks told reporters that Devlin had confessed in the case.

St. Louis County Court records show Devlin was charged in traffic violation cases in 1987 and 1988 with failing to register a vehicle and speeding 70 miles an hour in a 55 mph zone, respectively, and paid fines in both cases.

In both cases, he listed an address in the 600 block of Oakwood Avenue in Webster Groves. He was described in the case in 1987 as 6' 4'' and 300 pounds, and in the 1988 case as 6' 4' and 260 pounds.

A check of the Missouri State Highway Patrol's sex offender registry did not show his name.

Devlin’s landlords over the years said they noticed nothing unusual about him. He was nice enough. He paid the rent on time. RELATED LINKS

TALK: Reaction? Ben Ownby AND Shawn Hornbeck found alive

TIMELINE: Of the Shawn Hornbeck case

FROM OCTOBER 2006: Hornbeck family cries on 4th anniversary of son's disappearance


Franklin County people are all too familiar with abductions

Other missing child cases in recent years

Parents make plea for son's safe return

Kidnapping is tragically familiar for Franklin County

Town hopes, prays; Ben still is missing

Search goes on for missing boy

Ownby case activates new Mo. alert system

Sylvester Brown: Beaufort is missing one of its own, and it hurts

Current landlord William Romer, who bought the five-apartment complex in January 2005, said he had been in Devlin’s apartment only once to fix something -– he forgets what. He remembers a child being there, but asleep in another room.

“His son may have been sleeping in back –- or he said it was his son sleeping in back on the couch,” Romer said.

Romer said he remembered seeing the stories of both abductions of boys, but never saw anything suspicious in Romer, whom he described as pleasant and “kind of a plain guy.”

“There wasn’t anything unusual. In fact, I think the kid’s bedroom didn’t even have any curtains on it,” Romer said. “There wasn’t anything suspicious at all.”

Romer bought the complex from Marvin Reid, who said he didn’t remember much about Devlin, and didn’t remember a child living with him.

“There was always some kids around (the building) from time to time, but I certainly didn’t make any connection,” Reid said.

He said he believes Devlin lived there a few years before he sold it in 2005.

“He just acted like a relatively normal guy. Nothing unusual stuck out at me,” Reid said.

Romer, the current landlord, didn’t even know that police had raided the apartment this afternoon until his wife called his cell phone to tell him of the news.

Romer’s only contact with police was on Thursday afternoon, when a Kirkwood detective called him about another tenant in the building, asking Romer how to get in touch with that tenant.

Police said this evening that they went to the complex last night to serve a warrant on another tenant when they saw the suspicious pickup – leading to the boys being found.

Romer’s wife, Theresa, said a tenant called her this afternoon to tell her about the boys being found.

“I’m a little shaken up about it,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. I’m in shock. I can’t believe it.”

Kirkwood children were buzzing with the rescue news on Friday evening.

They said they had no idea that the boy now identified as Shawn Hornbeck had been living in their neighborhood. They said they did not recognize him, or the Devlin name, and that they knew of no boy attending a local school with either last name.

Also Friday, Kirkwood School District spokeswoman Ginger Fletcher said that no child enrolled at district schools matched Hornbeck’s description.

Fletcher said district officials had checked two of addresses associated with Devlin and neither matched that of any enrollee.

A group of local school kids gathered Friday evening to watch television at a neighborhood house, near the apartments where the police found Shawn and Ben on Friday and where they arrested the suspect.

The apartments are a block-long collection of modest, single-story, brick buildings in an area that serves North Glendale Elementary School.

The apartments are on the north side of Interstate 44 near abandoned railroad tracks that have been converted to a bike and walking trail.

Industrial buildings are west of the apartments, and a creek runs through it.

The children, whose parents declined to identify them, said they were frightened at the prospect that a kidnapper had operated in their midst.

In addition to working at Imo's in Kirkwood, Devlin had worked the overnight shift on Sundays and Tuesdays answering phones at Bopp Chapel in Kirkwood, said Jack Sullivan, a funeral assistant there. Sullivan said the Imo's referred Devlin for the job of answering phones and dispatching drivers, which Sullivan said he did well.

Sullivan said Devlin never discussed his personal life, and Bopp workers never had an idea that Hornbeck was living in his apartment.

"I know the Bopp family chapel is flabbergasted by this," he said. "There was no inkling that something like this would ever be linked with him."

The owner of the Kirkwood Imo’s declined to comment.

When he met with reporters late this afternoon, Toelke said: "We have some good news and we have some probably unbelievable news."

Reflecting on the earlier case involving the kidnapping of baby Abigale Woods last year -- another happy ending -- Toelke said:

"To have two endings like this is just unbelievable, just unbelievable."

Meeting with reporters later, Toelke said:

"To have something like this happen, there’s nothing to describe it."

He described the reunion between the boys and their parents this way:

"They were so happy, they didn’t know what to say."

Talking about what the Ownby family had gone through, he added:

"I know how we felt. I can only imagine how they felt."

Around 5 p.m. today, police escorted Ownby into the sheriff's department. The slight boy was wearing a red shirt and jeans and appeared somewhat dazed as he walked inside. A moment later, a car door opened and Hornbeck stepped out. He had a thick head of dark hair and was dressed in a leather jacket and jeans.

Ben Ownby's parents were at the Franklin County sheriff's office, where the boys were taken. Toelke said Hornbeck's parents arrived later.

Mitchell Hults, the boy who got off the school bus with Ben and said he had seen an old white pickup in the area, went with his family to the sheriff's office after they heard the news.

"It's crazy. I'm happy they got him and I'm glad he's okay," said Mitchell, 15. His mother, Sheri Hults, said, "It's incredible, it's incredible. I'm just so glad they were found... Thank God they found them alive. We've been paying and praying for this."

In Kirkwood this afternoon, a next door neighbor of Devlin said she has seen Hornbeck in the neighborhood for years, often playing with friends in the neighborhood.

The neighbor, Shavonne Butler, said she and other neighbors watched Hornbeck grow from a young boy to a teenager, but they never had any clue he was the boy who had been reported missing.

Instead, they thought he was Devlin's son.

Ownby disappeared after getting off his school bus in Beaufort near his home Monday afternoon. He has been sought ever since, with authorities concentrating on a white pickup truck seen near in the area.

Hornbeck was last seen on his bicycle, riding to the home of a friend in Richwoods, Mo., on Oct. 6, 2002.

In Beaufort this afternoon, Lisa Williams, Ben’s Boy Scout troop leader, said she was one of a dozen people at the Ownby house preparing to distribute more fliers about the missing boy when the good news came.

"We were excited and amazed," Williams said. "It’s unbelievable. We are so glad to have Ben back."

Williams said volunteers were stuffing their jackets with the flilers when the news came.

"Now I have to call my Boy Scout troop leaders who were putting up fliers and tell them they don’t have to that anymore. Finally, we got some good news."

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Guest SouthernCelt

Ben Owenby was only recently taken so he may be able to put all this behind him emotionally but I'm not so sure Shawn Hornbeck will be able to. So the ending may be happier than the alternatives that many might have expected, but I don't think this sort of thing could ever be classified as a 'happy' event.

Devlin may have conditioned Hornbeck over the last 3 years so that he becomes the same twisted person that Devlin obviously is.

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It was talked today on the news channel about Hornbeck possibly/was deprogramed. Alot of info is coming out about Hornbecks ordeal. Alot of strange things. Shawn did have his own cellphone and left alone at home. I think after so many years with Devilin developed Stockholm Syndrome

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