January 13, 2007: Two news conferences with the families of 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck and 13-year-old Ben Ownby were held in Beaufort, MO, today, one day after the safe return of the missing boys to their homes. They had been located in the appartment of 41-year-old Michael Devlin, who has been charged with kidnapping.
The boys smiled, but remained silent during the news conferences. Their parents focused their remarks on their joy at the safe return on their sons.
The recovery of Ben Ownby, four days after he disappeared after getting off his school bus on Monday, was certainly cause for celebration. The additional discovery of Shawn Hornbeck, missing since October 2002, in Devlin’s Kirkwood, MO home was a shockingly unexpected development.
“I still feel like I’m in a dream,” said Pam Akers, Shawn Hornbeck’s mother, who has been searching for her son since his disapppearance. “Only this time it’s a good dream, not the nightmare I’ve had four-and-a-half years.”
Her son sat next her, smiling. She kept her arm wrapped tightly around him. Her husband, Craig Akers, added that they had been in disbelief when they were first reunited with their son. “There was that split second of shock,” he said. “Once I saw the face, I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s my son.'”
The parents of Ben Ownby echoed the Akers’ joy. “We’re just ecstatic,” mom Doris Ownby said. “Don’t want to let him go out of our sight.”
The recovery of the two boys occurred Thursday night, when Kirkwood city police officers noticed a white pick up truck that resembled a vehicle that was being sought in possible connection with the abduction of Ben Ownby parked outside Michael Devlin’s apartment. They were at the apartment complex serving a warrant in an unrelated matter.
They contacted the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, and then searched Devlin’s home on Friday. The two boys were inside the apartment.
Michael Devlin, a pizza shop manager and part-time funeral home worker, has been charged with first-degree kidnapping, and is being held on $1million bail. At this time, authorities are not releasing any further information about Devlin. According to FBI Special Agent Roland Corvington, the filing of federal charges is a possibility.
According to his mother, upon returning home last night, after being reunited with his parents, Ben headed directly to his computer to play some video games.
Ownby grinned broadly as his mother recalled that soon after his return home, Ben immediately went to the computer to play some video games.