2 missing boys found in Mo.

One had vanished five days ago

other disappeared in 2002

January 13, 2007|By ASSSOCIATED PRESS

BEAUFORT, Mo. -- A 13-year-old boy who vanished near his home five days ago was found alive about 60 miles away in a suburban St. Louis home, along with a 15-year-old boy who had been missing since 2002, authorities said yesterday.

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

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

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

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 the vehicle authorities had been seeking in the Ownby investigation.

Kirkwood officers contacted the Franklin County Sheriff's Department, learned where the owner of the truck was and then searched Devlin's house.

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

Hornbeck disappeared from his home in rural Washington County in October 2002, when he was 11. He went for a bike ride and never returned.

His parents, Pam and Craig Akers, were coming to meet their son in Union, the Franklin County seat, Toelke said.

His parents, dozens of volunteers and sniffer dogs had searched for him for weeks.

Craig Akers, Shawn's stepfather, quit his job as a software designer to devote his time to a foundation bearing his son's name. The parents depleted their savings, borrowed against retirement and talked to psychics. The financial strain forced both of them back to work.

A retired police officer volunteered to work on the case until Shawn was found.

Toelke said authorities were still investigating the motive behind the abductions. Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks said more charges are likely.

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