Click the following links for expanded coverage:
Hospital Reports Both Boys Appear To Be In Good Health
Richwoods Celebrates Shawn Hornbeck's Return
Agents Search Devlin's Apartment; Neighbors In Shock
Coworkers Thought Devlin Was A Good Employee At Pizza Restaurant
Families Of Other Missing Children Celebrate, Raise Hopes
Overwhelming Joy For Those Who Saw Ownby Just Before He Disappeared
Click here to read about and watch the entire news conference with Ben Ownby and his family.
Click here to read about and watch the entire news conference with Shawn Hornbeck and his family.
KSDK - Late Friday afternoon, a convoy of vehicles arrived at the Franklin County Sheriff's Department in Union. When 2 passengers got out, there was a collective state of disbelief. "They have been reunited," proclaimed Sheriff Gary Toelke, "and there are some very happy people here."
Getting out of the vehicles were 13-year-old William "Ben" Ownby and 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck, both walking, safe, and alive. An Amber Alert for Ownby had been issued earlier in the week, after his Monday disappearance. An Amber Alert for Hornbeck was issued in October of 2002, when he disappeared from an area near his Washignton County home.
Astoundingly, both were found in an apartment in Kirkwood.
At a news conference, police said they had charged 41-year-old Michael J. Devlin of Kirkwood with one count of kidnapping.
The teenager Shawn Hornbeck did not look much like the 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck. "He had grown a little taller, with darker hair. I'm sure the parents woudl have recognized him, but if he had walked into my office, I'm not sure that I would have,” said the sheriff.
Kirkwood officers called to an apartment complex thought a truck there might be the one police were looking for. When they entered the apartment of Michael Devlin, they found Ben Ownby inside, and there was another surprise: a 15-year-old boy who said to the officers, "I'm Shawn Hornbeck."
"We had information that there was a 15-year-old boy in this apartment, and we were just saying, 'Wouldn't that be something,' in fact, Lt. Marquart with the Highway Patrol said, 'Wouldn't it be something if that was Shawn Hornbeck,' and it was just unbelievable that it was," said Sheriff Toelke.
The search began Monday afternoon, when Ben disappeared shortly after getting off a school bus near Beaufort, Missouri, in Franklin County. Another teen who was with him saw a white truck with a camper shell speeding away from the area. Police had been searching for the truck, and were following up on more than 500 leads.
Ownby's parents made an impassioned plea for his safe return Thursday evening. They created flyers to post around the area, hoping for his return, but knowing that each passing hour decreased the odds that he'd be found safely.
In 2002, Shawn Hornbeck left his Richwoods, Missouri home around 1:15 on a sunny, Sunday afternoon on his bike to visit a friend. No one had seen him since, until Friday. When he was brought to the area, NewsChannel 5's Cordell Whitlock, on the scene, said someone yelled out that it was indeed Shawn, and the crowd broke out into applause.
Shawn and Ben both were taken to the Franklin County Sheriff's Department Friday.
The F.B.I. joined the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Franklin County Sheriff's Department in the investigation, and they were joined in the search by fire departments, National Guard troops, and volunteers
Mitch Hults was the last person who’d seen Ben Ownby before his disappearance. His mother told NewsChannel 5’s Cordell Whitlock that they hadn’t yet seen either boy, and they were elated that the boys were found.
Mitch told NewsChannel 5, “It feels really good, that not just one life was saved, but two.” He also said it was the first time he’d ever seen the truck.” Later, he added, “I’m going to keep a closer eye on Ben.”
Amazingly, it’s the second time in recent months an Amber Alert in Franklin County has ended with the successful return of a child. Abby Woods, just a few days old, had been abducted from her home. She was found with another woman, who was subsequently charged with kidnapping her. Abby Woods was unharmed.
Devlin is being held on one million dollars bond.