- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2007

BEAUFORT, Mo. (AP) — A 13-year-old boy who vanished from the gravel road near his home five days ago was found alive yesterday about 60 miles away in a suburban St. Louis home, along with a 15-year-old boy missing since 2002, authorities said.

The boys were found in a Kirkwood home belonging to Michael Devlin, 41, who has been charged with one count of first-degree kidnapping, Sheriff Gary Toelke said.

The sheriff said both boys appeared unharmed. William Ownby, who goes by the name Ben, appeared somewhat dazed as he walked inside the sheriff’s department, where he was reunited with his family last night.

“His eyes lit up like silver dollars,” said the boy’s uncle, Loyd Bailie, who was escorted to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department with Ben’s parents. Everyone broke into tears and Ben’s parents embraced him as tightly as they could, Mr. Bailie said.

The straight-A student and Boy Scout was last seen after he stepped off his school bus and ran toward his Beaufort home down a gravel road on Monday.

A friend who left the bus with the boy told authorities that after the two parted, he saw a small white pickup with a camper shell speeding away from where Ben had been walking.

Searchers on foot, horseback and all-terrain vehicles looked for Ben in the hilly area about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Sheriff Toelke said the break in the case came Thursday night. Kirkwood city police officers were serving a warrant on an apartment complex when they noticed a white truck matching the description of a vehicle authorities had been searching for in the Ownby investigation.

Kirkwood officers contacted the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and determined where the owner of the truck was and then searched Mr. Devlin’s house.

Sheriff Toelke said authorities were surprised to find another boy who identified himself as Shawn Hornbeck.

Shawn disappeared from Richwoods in October 2002, when he was 11. He went for a bike ride and never returned.

His parents, Pam and Craig Akers, were reunited with their son, Sheriff Toelke said.

The sheriff said authorities were still investigating the motive behind the abductions. Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks said more charges are likely to be filed.

“There are a lot of things we don’t know right now,” Sheriff Toelke said.

Neighbor Rick Butler, 43, said the FBI came to his door Thursday night and showed a picture of Ben, asking if he had seen him. He said he had not. But he had seen a boy he now thinks was Shawn.

He said he saw no evidence that the boy now thought to be Shawn was scared or trying to get away. He had seen Mr. Devlin and the teen pitch a tent in the courtyard.

“I didn’t see or hear anything odd or unusual from the apartment,” Mr. Butler said. “I just figured them for father and son.”

Mr. Devlin worked at a local pizzeria and an overnight shift answering phones at a funeral home, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“He just acted like a relatively normal guy. Nothing unusual stuck out at me,” his former landlord, Marvin Reid, told the newspaper.

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