Authorities have recovered 15 year old Shawn Hornbeck, of Richwoods, Missouri. Also found was a second boy, 13 year old Ben Ownby of Franklin County, Missouri. Hornbeck had been missing for over four years.
Shawn Hornbeck disappeared in October of 2002. He was last seen riding a bike to a friend’s house, about 60 south of St. Louis. Ben Ownby disappeared on Monday, after being seen getting off of his school bus in Franklin County, near St. Louis.
On Thursday night (January 11, 2007), Police officers, while at an apartment complex in suburban Kirkwood, Missouri, to serve a warrant unrelated to either of the boys’ disappearances, noticed a rusty white Nissan pickup truck that matched the description of a vehicle being searched for in the Ownby case. The officer took pictures of the truck, while it was parked in the apartment complex..
That chance sighting resulted in the recovery of the two boys, and the arrest of a suspect.
The suspect, Michael J. Devlin, 41, has been arrested and charged with first-degree kidnapping, according to Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks. Devlin is currently being held on $1,000,000 bail, and Parks says that additional charges are likely.
Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said Friday that both boys appeared healthy and that they have been reunited with their families.
Hornbeck, who Toelke said had grown quite a bit taller and now has darker hair, had to identify himself to officers. “I’m sure the parents would have recognized him, but if he’d have walked into the office I don’t know that I would have.”, Toelke said.
Investigators are rejoicing at the recoveries, which Toelke called a “complete surprise”. Hundreds of volunteers had searched and followed up on tip from all over the country, only to have officers stumble upon the boys by chance.
Chris Diamond, who co-founded the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation shortly Hornbeck’s disappearance in 2002 , told CNN’s Larry King that the foundation’s volunteers were ecstatic. “We have just searched for him and we’ve never given up.” Diamond said.
Officers brought the boys Twinkies and doughnuts after they arrived at the sheriff’s office, and then released them to their families. Authorities have divulged few details regarding the recovery, the investigation, or the suspect Devlin.
Authorities divulged few details regarding the recovery, the investigation or the suspect. Parks’s statement about the possibility of additional charges suggests that the investigation my not be complete, as does Sheriff Toelke’s comment that “There’s a lot of things that we don’t know right now”.