Shawn Hornbeck's family shares message of hope

6:38 PM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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By Leisa Zigman

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Few people have any idea what the three young women rescued in Cleveland are experiencing now that they are free.

But there are at least two Missouri families that have some insight. On January 12, 2007 news broke that the police had just rescued Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby.

Michael Devlin kidnapped both boys and held them captive in his Kirkwood apartment; Ben for four days, Shawn for more than four years.

Shawn's mother Pam Akers knows all too well what the families of the Ohio girls are now experiencing and she has a message for them.

"There is life afterwards. These 10 years the girls have been gone is not going to define their life. That is a bad period in their life they are going to have. But they will be able to continue with the right therapy with the right love from their family with the right support from their family. They can go on and they can have their normal lives again," said Akers.

Akers also urged the parents not to push their daughters for answers. She said, "I know it's human nature to want to ask the questions but they will come to you when they are ready and they will tell you what they want you to know."

Shawn has a full time job, is 21, and according to his mom, doing great.

She said, "I've told him you've got a long life a head. There is no need to rush into anything. I want Shawn to do what he wants to do. I want Shawn to be who he wants to be and not who he thinks everybody else wants him to be."

The Hornbeck Foundation named after Shawn is no longer a 501(c)(3) charity.

"This has been hard for Craig and I because it was our baby. It was something we started but we felt at this time we need to focus on something else," said Akers.

The Akers plan to continue being a voice for families of missing children.

"If you feel your child is still alive, you keep that hope up. Keep looking, you keep turning, you keep getting media attention. Never give up because you never know when they are going to be found alive. It could be like these three girls...the next door neighbor heard them, that's all it takes is one person," she said.

Michael Devlin is serving multiple life sentences. He was attacked at least one time in prison with an ice pick.


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