- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2007

KIRKWOOD, Mo. (AP) — Investigators say a man suspected in the kidnapping of two boys kept at least one of them captive by threatening to kill the boy and his entire family, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported yesterday.

The paper, citing anonymous investigators, said the threats help explain why Shawn Hornbeck, 15, did not seize ample opportunities to run or summon help during four years of captivity that ended Friday.

Authorities, who have asked the families of both boys not to speak about their ordeal, have charged Michael Devlin, a 41-year-old pizza shop employee, in the kidnapping of 13-year-old Ben Ownby and are expected to charge him with the abduction of Shawn.

Ben yesterday said he has spent a lot of time watching TV since he was rescued, but there’s one face he’s tired of seeing.

“I’ve seen too much of me on there,” he said.

Ben was quiet and shy but appeared happy and well-adjusted in an interview with the Associated Press at his home in the rural town of Beaufort, where he was kidnapped Jan. 8. Christmas decorations, including the tree, were still up, adding to the festive atmosphere inside the home.

Ben said it was great to be back with family.

“It feels like I’m getting bruises from too many hugs,” he said.

Earlier yesterday, in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show, Ben’s mother 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?’ because I thought he was talking about the bad guy,” Doris Ownby said in a recorded interview.

Investigators have given no motive for the crimes and no details on what the boys went through. Officials said Mr. Devlin, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bail, did not appear to have a criminal record.

Mr. Devlin’s attorney, Michael Kielty, has said he has not seen any evidence and will enter a plea of not guilty at an arraignment tomorrow morning at the Franklin County Courthouse.

Both boys were found Friday in Mr. Devlin’s apartment in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood.

Ben and his parents thanked Mitchell Hults, 15, a friend who helped authorities find him by identifying a small, white pickup seen speeding away after Ben’s abduction.

Ben said he has few plans for this week. He’s spending a lot of time playing video games again and might travel to Chicago to be on the Oprah Winfrey show.

As far as returning to school, Ben said he can’t do that until he gets his backpack back. “They have it for evidence,” he said with a laugh.

Shawn was kidnapped in 2002 while riding his bike near his rural home. During his captivity, he apparently had the freedom to go outside, and perhaps even to use phones and the Internet, when Mr. Devlin went to work.

A series of Web postings, some under the name “Shawn Devlin,” have raised questions about whether he was trying to send clues about his real identity.

Investigators would not comment on the postings, and it was not immediately known if they were, in fact, created by Shawn or by someone else.

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