A Missouri man accused of kidnapping and molesting two boys was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury for allegedly taking pornographic pictures and videos of one of the boys and taking the child across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual assault.
The indictment marks the first federal charges against suspect Michael Devlin, 41, a former pizzeria manager from the St. Louis County town Kirkwood. He faces kidnapping and other charges in three Missouri counties for the 2002 abduction of 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck in Richwoods and the January abduction of 13-year-old Ben Ownby in Beaufort.
Both boys were found in Devlin's apartment Jan. 12, four days after Ben was kidnapped and 4 1/2 years after Shawn, now 15, was taken.
U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said four counts of the six-count federal indictment allege Devlin photographed and videotaped a minor engaged in sexually explicit acts between 2002 and this year. Two other counts allege he took the minor to Illinois and Arizona with the intent to engage in sexual assault.
'Worst thing that we have seen'
Hanaway said all six counts involved the same child, identified only as "S." The charges did not name Shawn Hornbeck, but authorities have alleged that Devlin held him captive from October 2002 until police found the boy in January.
Hanaway said she was "sickened" by the abuse. "This is by far the worst thing that we have seen," she said.
While it is The Associated Press and MSNBC.com's policy not to identify alleged victims of sexual abuse in most cases, the boys' stories have been widely publicized and their names are now well-known. Also, their families have gone public, conducting media interviews.
Besides the federal charges, Devlin faces a combined 75 state charges — 69 counts of forcible sodomy and two counts of kidnapping in St. Louis County; and one count each of kidnapping and armed criminal action in both Washington and Franklin counties.
Devlin has pleaded not guilty to all those charges.
Devlin's attorney, Ethan Corlija, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Thursday. The Hornbeck family attorney, Scott Sherman, also did not respond to an interview request.
Authorities allege Devlin used a gun to abduct Shawn as the boy was riding his bike near his home.
St. Louis County prosecutors allege Devlin sodomized Shawn at least once a month for the next four years.
Officials say boy identified with his captor
An official close to the investigation told The Associated Press that Shawn underwent intense abuse and isolation early on in his captivity. Over time, Devlin gave the boy more freedom and Shawn began to identify with Devlin in a pattern common to abuse victims, the official said.
Neighbors thought Shawn was Devlin's son and said the boy was free to ride a bike, hang out with friends and cruise the Internet.
When Ben was abducted soon after getting off a school bus in January, a witness got a description of the white pickup seen speeding away. The description matched Devlin's white Nissan pickup, leading to his arrest.
Devlin remains in Franklin County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond.