January 12, 2007: The Amber Alert for 13-year-old Ben Ownby, missing since Monday, proved to be a success, and a startling and miraculous one at that. Upon entering the Kirkwood, MO apartment of 41-year-old Michael Devlin, on an Amber Alert tip, police discovered another missing boy, 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck. Shawn Hornbeck has been missing for over four years.
The safe return of both boys was cause for emotional celebration in the St. Louis suburb.
Ben Ownby disappeared from a gravel road near his Beaufort, MO home on Monday. Shawn Hornbeck vanished while riding his bike in his hometown of Richwoods, MO in October 2002. At the time of this writing, both boys appear to be unharmed.
Thursday night, Kirkwood city police officers were at the apartment complex of Michael Devlin, serving a warrant in another matter. They noticed a white truck that matched the description of a truck an eyewitness reported seeing in connection with the Ben Ownby disappearance. Although Kirkwood is 60 miles Southwest of Ownby’s hometown of Beaufort, the Amber Alert had transmitted the eyewitness’s description of the truck throughout the nation. The officers inquired about the owner of the white truck. This led them to Michael Devlin’s apartment.
Devlin has been charged with one count of first degree kidnapping, and is being held on $1 million bond.
The return of Ben Ownby to his family was swift. The boy appeared dazed, and was hungry, but otherwise appeared unharmed.
Hornbeck has also been reunited with his family, but no details of that reunion have been disclosed. His 2002 disappearance has been well covered over the past 4-1/2 years; spawning websites devoted to his recovery. His mother and stepfather, Pam and Craig Akers, have become missing children advocates since their son’s disappearance. Craig Akers quit his job to devote himself to the cause full time.
According to a neighbor of Devlin’s, Ben Ownby was not familiar, but he did recognize Shawn Hornbeck. “I didn’t see or hear anything odd or unusual from the apartment,” the neighbor said. “I just figured them for father and son.” The neighbor said that he had never seen any indication that Hornbeck was a captive. A retired police officer volunteered to work on the case until Shawn was found.
Although celebrations are tenuous at best, as information about the boys’ ordeals is forthcoming, two missing children are home tonight. More investigation remains to piece together why and how the boys ended up with Michael Devlin. Once describing the years since her son’s disappearance as “one long continuous day,” Pam Akers can now rest for one night, with her son home, safe at last.
Source: Associated Press