Skip to comments.Ben Ownby and family appear on 'Today' show; Captor threatened Hornbeck's family
Posted on 01/16/2007 11:28:48 AM PST by keats5
NEW YORK -- Ben Ownby and his family appeared on the NBC "Today" show this morning to describe what it was like to be back after his abduction last week.
Host Meredith Vieira asked the boy what he had felt when he was reunited with his parents. His answer: "Great relief."
Ben's mother, Doris Ownby, recalled the words a police officer used to tell her they had recovered her son, who had been missing for four days: "We have him."
"And I said, 'We have who?'" she added, " 'cause I thought he was talking about the bad guy," Advertisement
Ben had praise for Mitchell Hults, the teenager who gave deputies a detailed description of the pickup truck. Asked what he'd like to say to Hults, Ben replied, "Thank you for being such a great big help in this entire thing."
His sister, Amanda, said, "I don't think I've ever been happier in my life."
Ben told Vieira that he was ready to head back to school. "I just need my backpack," he said.
His mother, Doris Ownby, said, "I've been trying to think of a way I could go to school with him."
Vieira asked, "What do you think of that, Ben?"
The boy's answer: "Nooooooooooo."
Later this morning, at Union High School, hundreds of students cheered Mitchell Hults at a special assembly honoring his role in Ownby's rescue. Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said that Hults "provided us with an outstanding description" that led to Ben's recovery last week.
Roland Corvington, special agent in charge of the FBI office in St. Louis, presented Mitchell with an FBI baseball cap and said:
"I would hope, Mitchell, that as you grow older, you would consider law enforcement as a career."
The only member of the Ownby family at the assembly was Ben's sister, Amanda, who said: "Mitchell, we owe you the world."
The school presented Mitchell with a plaque honoring him as "the hero of the Missouri Miracle."
Mitchell sat in the audience at first, then was called to the podium as his fellow students gave him a standing ovation. He did not address the crowd.
Our earlier story:
The captor who held Shawn Hornbeck for more than four years kept him from fleeing by threatening to kill the boy and his entire family, investigators said Monday.
That helps explain why Shawn, 15, freed Friday when police tracked a second kidnapped boy to an apartment in Kirkwood, did not seize ample opportunities to run or summon help, according to the investigators.
Michael J. Devlin, 41, is being held in jail on a charge of kidnapping in the Jan. 8 abduction of William "Ben" Ownby, 13, near the teen's home in Beaufort, in Franklin County. Charges are pending in the 2002 disappearance of Shawn.
Officials have determined that Shawn and Ben both were grabbed off the street and prevented from leaving Devlin's vehicle. And while all three were wired into the Internet and involved in computer games, there is no evidence of prior contact between Devlin and either boy, according to investigators.
Investigators have found no evidence that Devlin abducted any other children, sources said. But they are poring over computer equipment and videotapes obtained in a weekend search of his apartment, looking for evidence in Ben and Shawn's cases and any indication of other victims.
Investigators say they are puzzled that Devlin never has been accused of lesser offenses, which tend to be found among people who work their way up the crime ladder to child abduction.
Also on Monday, Washington County Sheriff Kevin Schroeder said Devlin owned a piece of vacant property there, about 20 minutes from where Shawn was kidnapped in the rural community of Richwoods.
"It's a connection I would definitely say so," Schroeder said.
While officials have revealed almost nothing about the conditions under which Shawn was kept for so long, it is clear that he eventually enjoyed freedom to move alone around the community, use a cell phone and interact with others on the Internet.
There was at least one occasion when he had a police officer's full attention. But the physical ability to flee did not make him less of a captive, sources close to the case said.
Although Devlin had several traffic tickets and was sued in 1999 over four years worth of unpaid state taxes, investigators have found nothing that would have put him on their radar.
A tip during the search for Ben from someone at the Imo's Pizza in Kirkwood, where Devlin worked, alerting authorities of similarities between his white Nissan pickup and one seen near Ben's disappearance, was not given top priority because Devlin had no criminal record.
Two Kirkwood officers said they noticed the truck Thursday while trying to serve an unrelated warrant on someone else in the same apartment complex. While the officers were there, other residents also pointed out the truck to them.
Devlin refused to let officers check his apartment, which triggered surveillance that resulted in Devlin's arrest Friday and the subsequent rescue of the boys.
Investigators said Devlin has been somewhat cooperative with authorities, even confessing to Ben's abduction.
Schroeder, the Washington County sheriff, said Devlin could face charges as early as today in Shawn's disappearance. He also said Devlin is likely to be questioned about several missing children, perhaps some from outside the St. Louis area.
Schroeder said authorities are not pressing Shawn for answers.
"We're leaving Shawn alone for a little while, being away for that long, to give him time to readjust and basically reunite with his family," he said. "That's what our main concern is. We've got the suspect behind bars on a million-dollar bond. We have that luxury right now."
New details have emerged about Shawn's encounter with a police officer last year. Officials said he was riding his bike alone late the night of Sept. 29 when a Glendale officer stopped him.
The officer, parked near a house that had collapsed earlier that day, was keeping people away from the rubble when he spotted Shawn about 11:20 p.m. on Essex Avenue, about a mile from where he lived in Kirkwood.
According to the police report, Shawn told the officer his name was "Shawn Devlin" and gave him the birth date July 7, 1991 10 days off his true date of birth.
Shawn told the officer he was biking to his apartment in Kirkwood after visiting a friend's home.
"He was wearing dark clothing and didn't have reflectors on his bike. The officer stopped him to find out who he was," said Glendale police Sgt. Bob Catlett. "He just appeared to be a typical 15-year-old kid riding his bike from a friend's house. He said he was Shawn Devlin, and we had no reason to doubt him."
Heather Ratcliffe and Dale Singer of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report, as did the Associated Press.
Ben will probably be just fine...the other boy...not so much.
Sadly, I agree, though I pray we are both wrong. I can't think of any punishment for the abductor that would actually provide just retribution for the damage he has done to Shawn Hornbeck.
Locked room...two baseball bats.....both father's..........15 minutes...........
Who knows? Some people are remarkably resilent, especially when transformed by the power of the Lord and supported by loving family. Others take great pride in their victimhood status, after experiencing relatively minor trauma.
Anyhow, I thought this was the most important part of the article:
"The captor who held Shawn Hornbeck for more than four years kept him from fleeing by threatening to kill the boy and his entire family, investigators said Monday.
That helps explain why Shawn, 15, freed Friday when police tracked a second kidnapped boy to an apartment in Kirkwood, did not seize ample opportunities to run or summon help, according to the investigators."
I concur. Punishment will accomplish nothing. Put him down as humanely as possible, just as we would any other dangerous animal.
Do they really even need 15 min?
Community service would be sufficient. He donates his cornea, lungs, heart, pancreas, liver and gall bladder. Once these are harvested the surgeon bends over and announces in his ear:
"You're free to go!"
Jack Bauer would bite a chunk of his neck off.
how bout 5 minutes!
Wouldn't even get warmed up good! Don't wanna sprain or cramp, you know!.....
The 15 year old looks seriously depressed and that pic of piercing his eyebrow with a paper clip is gruesome. To me, it does not make sense to keep wondering why an 11 year old did not escape.
Did ya'll see that pompus jack-ass Bill O'Reilly last night? I wish I could have gone through the t.v. screen and grabbed him by his neck. He said that he believed Shawn didn't escape because he preferred to be with his captor, the captor obviously let him do whatever he wanted and let him get a lip ring and then the blow hard said, he's usually right, end of story. How dare he!!!!
it was pretty disgusting!
The cornea would be enough.
He may be right. I would factor in shame. Funny the things that are never said, when homosexuality may be involved.
Shawn has a hard road to hoe, no doubt about it. But I would give him full room to recover. After all, he DID stay alive for over 4 years. People can be incredibly resilient. My best friend was sexually assaulted by her father who threatened to kill her family if she told. She's had a hard time too, but you'd never guess that she had such a past. He needs help--which he's NOT getting by the doubts expressed by the media. He's got great parents, so he's got a good chance of rebounding to health. A lot depends on him. I wish him the very best.
"Also on Monday, Washington County Sheriff Kevin Schroeder said Devlin owned a piece of vacant property there, about 20 minutes from where Shawn was kidnapped in the rural community of Richwoods."
Someone needs to start digging. There may have been earlier victims that grew too old to "keep" any longer.
Since I live in St. Louis.. I've heard this miraculous story non-stop. Apparently the captor had his toe amputated due to complications from diabetes and chain smoked--not sure if I'd want any of his organs.
The humour in your post is definintely noted!!! =^)
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