10 years later: Remembering the day Shawn Hornbeck & Ben Ownby w - KMOV.com

10 years later: Remembering the day Shawn Hornbeck & Ben Ownby were found

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Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Ten years ago today, the FBI stormed into a small Kirkwood apartment complex and rescued Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby, marking the day many call “The Missouri Miracle.”

In October 2002, the then 11-year-old Hornbeck was kidnapped while riding his bike to a friend’s home in Washington County.

Then, on Jan. 8, 2007, Ownby was kidnapped in Franklin County while he was at a rural school bus stop. Ownby’s 15-year-old neighbor told investigators he saw a white pickup truck near the bus stop at the time the then 13-year-old went missing.

When officers later went to serve a search warrant near the apartment where Michael J. Devlin lived, they noticed a truck matching the description of the white pickup that was seen when Ownby disappeared.

After questioning the truck’s owner, Devlin, the FBI went to his apartment in the 400 block of South Holmes Avenue on Jan. 12, 2007, where they found Hornbeck and Ownby.

Investigators said Hornbeck was tied up for a month inside the apartment and at one point Devlin attempted to strangle him, only stopping when the boy promised not to tell anyone. Devlin, who led Hornbeck to believe his family would be harmed if he left, later let the teenager get a cell phone, go on dates and hang out with others, but not attend school.  

In a 2013 interview with News 4, Hornbeck said he never gave up hope while he was in captivity.

“I just always knew my family was out there,” he said. “I had like a psychic connection to my mom. We’ve just always been linked to each other and I could just feel her staying strong for me…So I knew I had to.”

Devlin was arrested and later pleaded guilty for multiple counts of kidnapping and sexual assault. He was sentenced to 74 life sentences in a Missouri prison and 170 years of federal time.

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