ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s been ten years since Franklin County authorities made a startling discovery, finding a recent kidnapping victim, and a long-term missing child in the same place.
Ben Ownby disappeared four days earlier, but Shawn Hornbeck disappeared four years prior to being found on January 12, 2007. Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke, who just retired a couple of weeks ago, remembers it as a tough time.
In the months prior to Ownby’s disappearance, Toelke had just gone through the stress of a deputy being shot and killed, and the unrelated kidnapping of Abby Woods was kidnapped in September 2006. ‘Baby Abby’ was later found safe.
But the Hornbeck family had to wait a much, much longer time. For more than four years candlelight vigils became the new routine.
Toelke said he remembered in 2002, watching coverage of the Hornbeck kidnapping, and being thankful for not being in those police officers shoes.
The self proclaimed, ‘bad person,’ Michael Devlin was found to be hiding the two boys in his Kirkwood apartment while managing a pizza restaurant. He was sentenced to 74 life sentences in Missouri and 170 years federally.
When the dust settled, Toelke says he maintained a relationship with all of the kidnapping victims he helped to find. They even stopped by his retirement party.
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