Shawn and Ben One Year Later
Posted by shadmia on February 1, 2008
Michael J. Devlin, 42, was ultimately sentenced to 74 life sentences plus 170 years in federal prison. His crime: The kidnapping and brutal rape of two teenagers, Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. Although Ben was rescued shortly after being kidnapped, Shawn suffered for 4 years at the hands his captor. Read about it here
Since his arrest on Jan. 12 2007 Michael Devlin has been held in solitary confinement. He is currently at a maximum-security prison in Cameron, about 50 miles north of Kansas City. He’s confined to his cell almost all the time, Corrections Department spokesman Brian Hauswirth said. He can have one magazine and one newspaper, and some sacred readings, but no hardback books. He has no TV, no radio, and no computer.
Devlin eats alone. He gets one hour of recreation — by himself — three times a week. He can shower every third day. He can receive visitors, but must meet with them through glass. He has no contact with other inmates.
Loyd Bailie, Ben’s uncle and a spokesman for the family, said he was disappointed that Devlin was protected from the other prisoners.
“He should be in the general population,” Bailie said. “Why should he be subject to anything different than other sexual predators? Why should they make stipulations for him?”
Strangely enough Devlin agrees with Bailie. According to his lawyer Ethan Corlija:
“He’s commented to me that if something happens to him in the general population, so be it. It’s better than being in solitary.”
So what is life like now for the two boys; one year after being rescued from Michael Devlin? Well both families have tried to cope the best they can and have attempted to keep the two youngsters out of the public eye.
“You try not to worry,” Don Ownby said. “You want him to be as mainstream as possible. You don’t want him to have to worry about what’s going on. It’s just in the back of your mind all the time — ‘Where is he? Is he safe?’ ”
On the advice of psychologists who worked with them and their son, the Ownbys have not spoken with Ben about what happened to him during his four days with Devlin. They are trying to let him grow up and do the normal things teen aged boys do. He has a cell phone and his parents are in constant contact with him. Even so, they admit that it is hard not to worry about him.
“It’s just been wonderful for us,” Pam Akers (Shawn’s mother) said of the past year. “We can’t hardly believe it’s already been a year. To us, sometimes it seems like it’s only been a couple of months.”
In the year since his rescue, Shawn, who did not attend school during his captivity, has progressed amazingly well, the Akers said. In an interview they shared photos of Shawn, showing a dark-haired and handsome young man enjoying a variety of sporting activities. They spoke with pride about how hard he’s worked to catch up the years of missed schooling.
“He worked one-on-one all summer long. When most kids were out playing and having fun, he was having to do his school,” Pam Akers said. “He actually has gone from a fifth-grade level all the way up to ninth-grade level, and he has a 3.96 grade average, so we couldn’t be any prouder.”
Shawn’s married sisters, Jackie Huncovsky, 22, and Jenny LaMar, 21, have since moved out of the family home, but stop by often to talk or play video games with their brother, Pam Akers said. Shawn, now an uncle to three, has gotten to know the niece and nephew born while he was gone.
The Akers work part-time at a logistics company, but maintain their focus on the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation, formed after the boy vanished. The foundation focuses on preventing child abductions and finding missing children. In November, the couple helped find a 15-year-old runaway from suburban St. Louis. The two, acting on a tip, took a flight to California to bring the girl home while the girl’s parents attended to a gravely ill family member.
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Pam Akers said, explaining how wonderful it was to help reunite another family with a missing child.