Mitchell Hults
Jeff Roberson  /  AP
Mitchell Hults, 15, smiles as he looks down at a plaque given to him during a celebration in his honor at Union High School on Tuesday in Union, Mo.
updated 1/17/2007 8:31:02 AM ET 2007-01-17T13:31:02

Mitchell Hults is a young man of few words. But when it mattered most, he talked late into the night, giving authorities the information they needed to rescue his friend and another boy held captive.

At a surprise ceremony Tuesday honoring the 15-year-old at Union High School, investigators said they never could have broken the case without him.

“I hope that as you grow older, you would consider law enforcement as a career option,” FBI agent Roland Corvington said to Mitchell, who smiled sheepishly.

Dressed in a camouflage jacket and jeans, the only statement Mitchell made came from one of his favorite comedians, Larry the Cable Guy.

“Git ‘er done!” Mitchell cried into the microphone. The crowd of students and teachers in the school gymnasium roared with applause.

Mitchell was with classmate Ben Ownby just minutes before he disappeared Jan. 8 after getting off their school bus. Mitchell spotted a white pickup fleeing the scene, and his detailed description led police in suburban St. Louis to spot the truck Thursday.

A day later, Ben was freed from an apartment where he was held captive. Astonishingly, so was 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck of nearby Richwoods, who disappeared in fall 2002. Michael Devlin, 41, was arrested and charged with kidnapping.

Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said Mitchell’s description of the white Nissan pickup was remarkably detailed. Friends and family say that’s because Mitchell is a truck fanatic.

“He was so accurate in what he told us, we kind of wondered if he made it up,” Toelke said. “So we interviewed him until about 2 in the morning. He got to know us pretty well.”

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