- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2007

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Attorneys for kidnapping suspect Michael Devlin criticized jail security, saying a New York Post correspondent obtained a jailhouse interview with him by identifying herself as one of his friends.

The newspaper obtained the first interview with the 41-year-old pizzeria manager accused of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. Shawn, now 15, was held captive for more than four years. Ben, 13, was missing four days when both boys were found Jan. 12 at Mr. Devlin’s apartment in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood.

Mr. Devlin’s attorneys, Michael Kielty and Ethan Corlija, criticized jail security after the Post published a story Sunday in which Mr. Devlin talked about being lonely but said life was good for him over the past four years.

“There was a standing order that no media was allowed in to see my client,” Mr. Kielty said.

Franklin County, Mo., Sheriff Gary Toelke released a statement late Sunday and another statement yesterday saying security at the jail in Union was not breached. He said an inmate can accept or decline requests from journalists, and in this case, Mr. Devlin accepted.

“It appears to me that the attorneys either neglected to inform their client or could not control their client and are blaming it on us,” Sheriff Toelke said.

The reporter, Susannah Cahalan, told jail officials that she was a friend of Mr. Devlin’s when she went for a visit about 11 a.m. Friday, Sheriff Toelke said. She filled out the visiting request form and wrote “friend” in the relationship section, he said.

Still, Mr. Devlin agreed to the visit. Sheriff Toelke said jail authorities don’t know whether Miss Cahalan told Mr. Devlin that she was a reporter.

“It would actually not make any difference to us who she was as long as Devlin granted the interview,” Sheriff Toelke said.

The sheriff said that after that interview, Mr. Devlin signed a statement saying he did not want to conduct press interviews, though he had a second meeting set up with Miss Cahalan for Saturday. After the two met again Saturday, Mr. Devlin’s attorneys issued a list of visitors allowed to see Mr. Devlin. That list excludes reporters.

After speaking with Post editor Col Allan, spokesman Howard Rubenstein said, “The response of the New York Post is that they stand by their published report.”

Mr. Rubenstein said later, “They’re not going to make any further comments.”

Mr. Devlin, who refused to talk to the reporter about accusations against him, is accused of taking Ben just after the boy got off a school bus Jan. 8 in Beaufort, Mo., about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis. A schoolmate’s tip about a white pickup led authorities to Mr. Devlin’s apartment, where they found the boys. Shawn had been missing since 2002 after being kidnapped while riding his bike in Richwoods.

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