Image: Charles Arlin Henderson
Charles Arlin Henderson, seen at age 11 when he disappeared on left, is shown age-progressed to 22 years.
updated 1/17/2007 6:41:15 PM ET 2007-01-17T23:41:15

A suburban St. Louis man suspected of kidnapping two youngsters also is under investigation in the disappearance of another Missouri boy 16 years ago, The Associated Press has learned.

Michael Devlin is the “most viable lead” in the case of Charles Arlin Henderson, who was 11 when he disappeared in 1991 and has never been found, Lincoln County sheriff’s deputies said.

Devlin was arrested last week after police found two kidnapped boys in his apartment in suburban Kirkwood: 13-year-old boy Ben Ownby, who was taken Jan. 8, and 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck, who vanished on Oct. 6, 2002. On Wednesday, Devlin was charged with kidnapping Hornbeck in 2002. He had already been charged with kidnapping Ownby on Jan. 8.

The long-missing boy, known as Arlin, was, like Ben and Shawn, about 100 pounds and from a rural town about an hour from St. Louis. Both Shawn and Arlin vanished at age 11 while riding their bikes.

“If you were to take a photo of Arlin Henderson and you place it next to Shawn’s picture, there is a striking resemblance,” sheriff’s Lt. Rick Harrell said.

Devlin, 41, was jailed on $1 million bail and awaited arraignment Thursday in the kidnappings.

Prosecutors alleged in new charges filed Wednesday that Devlin terrorized Shawn with a handgun to get him to cooperate. Washington County prosecutor John Rupp said in a statement that Devlin was charged with kidnapping and armed criminal action. The statement does not name Shawn but uses the initials SCH.

A probable cause statement released by Rupp said Devlin “abducted SCH utilizing force for the purpose of terrorizing the victim. After securing SCH, Michael Devlin flourished a handgun in order to gain compliance of the minor child. Michael Devlin then transported him out of the county and concealed his whereabouts for four years and three months.”

Witness saw man taking photos
Lincoln County investigators began re-examining the 1991 case after Devlin’s arrest. Detective Chris Bartlett said a witness saw a man snapping photos of Arlin before the Moscow Mills boy vanished.

Arlin’s uncle, James McWilliams, said the boy came home from school a few months before he disappeared and told his mother a “tall, thin man” had been taking pictures of him.

Asked whether the man’s description fit that of Devlin, who stands about 6-foot-4 and weighs around 300 pounds, Bartlett said: “It matched the description enough that we have to pursue him as the most viable lead.”

“We’ve got other indications that cause us to be concerned with this,” he added.

Lincoln County deputies have sent their leads to the Franklin County task force that spearheaded the hunt for Ben.

Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said his office and the FBI were investigating whether Devlin might have been involved in other abductions. FBI spokesman Pete Krusing would not discuss whether the agency was investigating a link between Devlin and the 1991 case.

Devlin’s attorneys did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday on the 1991 case.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Missouri suspect eyed in 1991 case


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