Michael John Devlin was a lonely man.
Adopted into a large family of other adopted children, most of his family and friends were either married or had moved off somewhere.
He had parents that cared for him and a happy childhood, full of trips to places like YellowStone National Park and New York City.
Somehow, Mr. Michael Devlin just hadn’t found that special women yet. His boss couldn’t remember Michael Devlin mentioning a single girlfriend in the 25 years that he worked there.
A store manager for a Missouri pizza place, the 6’4″, 300-pound Michael Devlin somehow made time during his busy days to abduct and hold captive pre-teen boys.
In 2002, Michael Devlin was diagnosed with diabetes, which eventually led to the amputation of his toes. He was probably a little upset with this, because he was the outdoors-type, enjoying his hunting and fishing activities like many folks in Missouri.
He was upset enough that he used a gun and grabbed 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck on October 6th of 2002, off his bike while Shawn was riding to a friend’s house in Richwoods, Missouri.
Shawn was isolated completely from the outside world and restrained with duct tape for about 30 days. Slowly, over the years, Michael Devlin warped and twisted Shawn’s mind, stripping his identity from him, rewarding good behavior with treats like video games and punishing bad behavior with sodomy. Once a month, Shawn would get sodomized.
Shawn broke, of course, as just about any 11-year-old would.
His family wondered where he was for 1558 days.
Michael Devlin passed Shawn off as his son. Shawn, brainwashed, played the role to the hilt.
On January 9th of 2007, Michael Devlin took a sick day, drove around with his “son” Shawn, and grabbed 13-year-old William Ownby off the street while he was walking home from where the school bus dropped him off after school. Stuffing William Ownby down onto the floorboard of the white Nissan truck, they drove off and took the boy to Michael Devlin’s apartment.
Fortunately someone had seen the truck and were able to provide a description of it to police, who used it to track down Mr. Michael Devlin.
Shawn Hornbeck and William Ownby were reunited with their parents.
Michael Devlin is in jail, waiting for his trial.
But…since the beginning of the investigations into Michael Devlin’s background, the places he’s been and the methods he used to kidnap these boys, officials are looking into other, unsolved disappearances that have some of the same traits and could possibly involve Mr. Devlin.
- Scott Kleeschulte was nine years old when he disappeared while riding his bike near his home in St. Charles, Missouri, in June 1988.
- Jacob Wetterling was eleven when he was abducted by an armed man in Minnesota, on October 22, 1989, while riding his bike with his younger brother and a friend.
- Charles Henderson, then eleven, disappeared in 1991 while riding his bike on a rural road in Moscow Mills, which is a small town about an hour’s drive from St. Louis, Missouri.
- Steven Kraft, then twelve, disappeared on February 15, 2001 from Benton Township, Michigan. Steven was last seen walking his two dogs in the evening, failing to return home to dinner. His two dogs were found, but Steven was gone.
- Dalton Mesarchik, a 7-year-old, was kidnapped in March 2003 from his front lawn in Streator, Illinois, and found dead the next day on the banks of the Vermilion River.
Will Michael Devlin be charged in these disappearances? Time will tell. Would you be surprised if he was? I doubt it.
For now, Michael Devlin has been charged with many counts of forcible sodomy, a few kidnapping charges, some attempted murder charges, two counts of transporting a minor across state lines for sexual activity, and a count of armed criminal action. Oh yeah, throw “manufacturing child porn” in there.
We shall see.
On the 8th of October, 2007, Michael Devlin pled guilty to all charges. He was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping a child. He also pled guilty to charges in different counties. Michael Devlin was sentenced to spend three lifetimes in prison for kidnapping and the other crimes he committed against Shawn Hornbeck, which will start after the life sentence is served for kidnapping Ben Ownby.
On the 21st of December, 2007, Michael Devlin was hit with an additional 170 years for making pornography of one of the boys while in captivity.
Michael Devlin has received more than 70 life sentences so far.