Parents of Missing Boy Say His Life Was Threatened

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Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby disappeared more than four years and 40 miles apart. On Friday, police were stunned to find both boys alive and well in 41-year-old Michael Devlin's suburban St. Louis apartment.

Both boys appeared without speaking at media events today as their families told reporters how overjoyed they were to have them back.

"Shawn is a miracle here," said Pam Akers, mother of Hornbeck, now 15. "We're glad to have him home. I still feel like I'm in a dream -- only this time it's a good dream, not the nightmare I've had four-and-a-half years."

"We're just ecstatic," said Doris Ownby, mother of Ben, 13, who disappeared Monday. "Don't want to let him go or out of our sight."

Hornbeck was 11 years old when he disappeared on Oct. 6, 2002.

On Saturday's "Good Morning America Weekend Edition," Hornbeck's mother, stepfather and sister told ABC's Kate Snow that Hornbeck's life was threatened.

"He's been held against his will, and since that time he was threatened with his life," said Craig Akers, Hornbeck's stepfather. "He thought that … it would be the end of his life if he tried to tell anyone or do anything."

While Akers is elated that Hornbeck is alive and well, he wants Devlin to pay for robbing him of four years with his stepson.

"He has to pay the price for what he's done, and I intend to see that happen. He's robbed us of those four years," Akers said. "You can never get those years back, those are years of his innocence, years of his youth that we can't recapture."

At a press conference later in the day, Doris Ownby told the media she was giving an interview when a police officer said her son had been found after disappearing Monday while getting off a school bus. She added that she was speechless when she first saw her son.

"I just was ecstatic," she said. "I didn't say anything. I just grabbed him and held him. That was it."

A search warrant led police to investigate Devlin's Kirkwood, Mo., apartment. He has been charged with first-degree kidnapping and is being in the Franklin County Jail on $1 million bond.

FBI Special Agent Roland Corvington said that officials first recognized Ownby in Devlin's apartment.

"Young Ben … looked up at one of the agents and said, 'Are you going to take me home?'" Covington said, adding that Ownby then asked Hornbeck to identify himself as another missing child.

Covington added that based upon the search of Devlin's apartment, officials checking the feasibility of filing federal charges against Devlin. He would not specify which charges were being considered or why.

'Miracles Do Happen'

Doris Ownby said she was enjoying the process of returning to life-as-usual with her son, who, she noted, wanted to play computer games immediately upon returning home.

Hornbeck's parents expressed much the same sentiment. When Craig Akers expressed satisfaction over his stepson's mundane request to stop at McDonald's for a bite on his way back home, Hornbeck appreared to drop his face onto the table where he was sitting, perhaps expressing teenage embarrassment.

News of Hornbeck's rescue after four years missing took his family completely by surprise.

"We were driving home from work in our car when we got the phone call saying that they had found him and we need to get to the sheriff's department," Craig Akers told "GMA." "Just out of the blue, out of nowhere, a present from heaven."

Though he hadn't seen Hornbeck in four years, Akers instantly recognized his stepson.

"There was no doubt," he said. "Immediately when you saw the face … it just instantly registered and it's been just like one dream since then."

Akers hopes other families with missing children can find strength from the story of his son's recovery.

"Don't give up hope if you do have a missing child," he said. "This is what we've stressed from day one, and it's obvious that miracles do happen. Things can come to a happy conclusion just don't give up the faith."

Hornbeck's mother echoed her husband's statement at the press conference.

"It may be days later, it may be years later, but they can come home safe," she said.

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