Video: Kidnap suspect gives interview

updated 1/22/2007 12:30:28 PM ET 2007-01-22T17:30:28

Attorneys for kidnapping suspect Michael Devlin criticized jail security, saying a New York Post correspondent obtained a jailhouse interview with him by identifying herself as one of his friends.

The newspaper obtained the first interview with the 41-year-old pizzeria manager accused of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. Shawn, now 15, was held captive for more than four years. Ben, 13, was missing four days when both boys were found Jan. 12 at Devlin’s apartment in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood.

Devlin’s attorneys, Michael Kielty and Ethan Corlija, criticized jail security after the Post published a story Sunday in which Devlin talked about being lonely but said life was good for him over the past four years.

“There was a standing order that no media was allowed in to see my client,” Kielty said. But Franklin County, Mo., Sheriff Gary Toelke released a statement late Sunday, and another Monday, saying security at the jail in Union was not breached. He said an inmate can accept or decline media requests, and in this case, Devlin accepted.

‘Blaming it on us’
“Unless a weapon can be passed through concrete and two inches of bullet-proof glass, there is no contact with the inmate,” Toelke said in the statement Monday. “It appears to me that the attorneys either neglected to inform their client or could not control their client and are blaming it on us,” he said.

Kielty and Corlija said they planned to ask a judge Monday to move Devlin to a more secure facility, perhaps in St. Louis County, where he lives, or in nearby St. Charles County.

The reporter, Susannah Cahalan, told jail officials that she was a friend of Devlin’s when she went for a visit around 11 a.m. Friday, Toelke said. She filled out the visiting request form and wrote “friend” in the relationship section, he said.

Still, Devlin agreed to the visit. Toelke said jail authorities don’t know whether Cahalan told Devlin she was a reporter.

“It would actually not make any difference to us who she was as long as Devlin granted the interview,” Toelke said.

‘They stand by their published report’
The sheriff said that after that interview, Devlin signed a statement saying he did not want to conduct media interviews, though he already had a second meeting set up with Cahalan for Saturday. After the two met again Saturday, Devlin’s attorneys issued a list of visitors allowed to see Devlin. That list excludes the media.

Kielty also said the reporter told Devlin she was writing for a university publication, not the Post.

After speaking with Post editor Col Allan, spokesman Howard Rubenstein said, “The response of the New York Post is that they stand by their published report.”

Rubenstein said later, “They’re not going to make any further comments.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Cahalan attends Washington University in St. Louis and used to work for the school paper. E-mail and phone messages left by the AP for a Susannah Cahalan listed as a Washington University student were not returned.

‘I was relatively happy’
In the Post article, Devlin said his parents had not visited with him since his arrest.

“I don’t know how I’m going to explain myself to my parents,” Devlin said in his only public comments except for a brief court appearance on Thursday where he pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping Ben. He faces a separate kidnapping charge in the Shawn Hornbeck case.

Michael Devlin in January 2007
AFP-Getty Images
Kidnap suspect Michael Devlin in a photo obtained Jan. 17, from Missouri authorities.
“It’s much easier talking to a stranger about these things than your own parents,” he said.

Devlin, who refused to talk to the reporter about allegations against him, is accused of taking Ben just after the boy got off a school bus Jan. 8 in Beaufort, Mo., about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis. A schoolmate’s tip about a white pickup led authorities to Devlin’s apartment, where they found Ben and Shawn, who had been missing since 2002 after being kidnapped while riding his bike in Richwoods, Mo.

“I guess I was relatively happy” during those four years, Devlin said.

Devlin said he “was never really interested in” romantic relationships but wouldn’t say whether he was attracted to women.

“I can’t talk about that because it has to do with the case,” he said.

‘I feel nothing’
The Post said Devlin appeared downcast and red-eyed during the first interview Friday, but was smiling and more upbeat during an interview Saturday.

“I feel nothing,” he said in the first interview. “I hide my emotions from other people. I hide the way I feel.”

Around 2002, he started losing contact with close friends, most of whom he knew from Imo’s, the pizza parlor he managed in Kirkwood.

“I guess you could say I was lonely. All my friends starting getting married and having kids,” he said. “Hanging out with friends just becomes a lower priority (for them).”

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