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Taken: Children Lost and Found

Aired January 19, 2007 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is every parent's fear, having your child taken. No child, of course, is immune. This is a special hour of 360, "Taken: Children Lost and Found."
All the angles tonight on the terrifying story that could have ended much differently, but thankfully didn't. Two missing boys, taken. How Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck vanished, seemingly without a trace, vanished but were found, saved by a combination of luck, gut instincts and a life-saving tip from another child. All the details ahead.

We are beginning to learn more about what both boys went through and what it might take for them to heal.

Plus, Michael Devlin, the man charged in both kidnappings. A chilling reminder that the co-worker and neighbor you think you know so well may be a monster. Investigators say Devlin was leading a double life, his dark secret hidden from everyone who knew him.

Were Ben and Shawn the only children who may have been Devlin's victims? There's new heat in three cold cases -- all children taken and still lost. All of that is ahead.

We start, however, with the latest on the two boys found alive. New details have been emerging every day, many of them disturbing, all of them raising new questions.


JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They were the lost boys. Two children missing in rural Missouri, two families praying for a miracle.

DORIS OWNBY, BEN OWNBY'S MOTHER: We want people to know that we just want Ben back.

FREED: Ben Ownby vanished last week at his school bus stop.

Shawn Hornbeck was riding his bike when he disappeared more than four years ago.

PAM AKERS, SHAWN HORNBECK'S MOTHER: This is totally out of the ordinary for him. He's never been late. He's scared of the dark. That's why when he didn't come home last night, I knew it wasn't right.

FREED: Both left home and never returned. But exactly one week ago, they finally did.

P. AKERS: Oh, I knew that was him the minute they opened that door and I seen him sitting there. There was no doubt in my mind that that was not him.

FREED: The search for them was over. Yet the hunt for answers to this incredible story was just beginning.

Thirteen-year-old Ben and the now 15-year-old Shawn were found in the Kirkwood apartment of this man, Michael Devlin, after police noticed his truck matched the one witnesses say was speeding away moments after Ben went missing.

Police say the 41-year-old pizza parlor manager had no criminal record. Co-workers say he was friendly.

MIKE PROSPERI, IMO'S PIZZA PARLOR OWNER: I never had any problem with him at all. I mean, he was my manager. He counted my money. And you just don't do that with somebody that you don't trust.

FREED: However, one neighbor said Devlin had a temper.

And another recalled disturbing sounds he heard from Devlin's home.

TOM GARNER, MICHAEL DEVLIN'S NEIGHBOR: Abusive discipline is what it sounded like. Just couldn't tell you if there was anything physical, but Mr. Devlin would seem to be fairly loud and abusive as far as in a speaking manner.

FREED: As Devlin was being charged with kidnapping, part of the focus turned to Hornbeck.

Even though nobody knew where he was, it appears Shawn was missing in plain sight. He had friends, reportedly a girlfriend; biked around the neighborhood; and under the name of Shawn Devlin, asked his parents on their Web site how long they planned to keep looking for their son.

KRISTA JONES, MICHAEL DEVLIN'S NEIGHBOR: I did see him go in and out of the apartment all the time. He'd usually lock up in the daytime with his keys and take off on his bike. Sometimes he'd be wearing a backpack and sometimes he didn't. So that's why I thought he went to like an alternative school or something like that, because it would be all different hours.

FREED: But his parents say his life was anything but normal.

P. AKERS: Shawn did tell us that he was just terrified. So we do know that something has happened to him. For some reason or another, he was -- didn't feel that he could come home, because I feel in my heart that if Shawn was able to just up and walk out and not have to worry about anything else, I have no doubt in my mind he would have came home.

FREED: And on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," his parents said they believed he was sexually molested.

For Ben Ownby, his family thanked well-wishers and asked for privacy.

OWNBY: Ben's doing fine. We decided not to bring him here today. We think that he needs to get back to normal. We're going to try and get him ready to go back to school.



FREED: With Devlin behind bars, this story took another incredible turn. Police are looking at a possible connection between Devlin and three other missing children cases in Missouri -- 13-year- old Bianca Noel Piper disappeared in 2005.

DET. CHRIS BARTLETT, LINCOLN COUNTY POLICE: He was part of it, in the middle or just watching from afar, he absolutely knew what was going on.

I certainly believe Michael Devlin was monitoring our search in the disappearance of Bianca Piper.

FREED: In 1998 Scott Kleeschulte vanished from a St. Louis suburb. He was nine years old.

RICHARD KLEESCHULTE, SCOTT KLEESCHULTE'S FATHER: Is he still out there or if he's not, what did happen? We would like to have a closure one way or the other.

FREED: And then there is this boy, Arlin Henderson, gone since 1991. In an interview with ANDERSON COOPER 360, his mother recalls the last time she saw her 11-year-old son.

DEBORAH HENDERSON-GRIFFITH, ARLIN HENDERSON'S MOTHER: We were -- typical day. We were at home, and he decided he wanted to go out and ride his bicycle. I guess it was about 2:30, somewhere around there. And I told him, yes, go ahead, but I was going to cook supper early so I could give grandma her medicine because she had to eat before she took it, and for him to come back in a little bit. And he said, all right, Mom, save me some polish sausage. And I stood at the door and watched him get on his bike and ride down the street. And that was the last I saw of my son.

FREED: Like the families of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby, Arlin Henderson's mother has never stopped searching for her son, never stopped hoping that he will come home.

HENDERSON-GRIFFITH: Someday there's going to be a miracle, and you're all invited to the party.

FREED: Jonathan Freed, CNN, St. Louis, Missouri.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Police say one of the most troubling things about this story is that Devlin, for more than four years, was able to keep his dark secret from everyone who knew him.

His co-workers and friends say they had no idea that a young boy was living with him. His neighbors assumed Shawn was his son. They say Devlin didn't try to conceal him. Even more amazing, he didn't even avoid the police.

We'll have more on that now from CNN's David Mattingly.


ROB BUSHELLE, MICHAEL DEVLIN'S NEIGHBOR: He pointed to this sign over here.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Late last summer, Rob Bushelle says he got into a loud argument with a neighbor over a parking space.

BUSHELLE: He wanted this space, and I was kind of in the middle of these two.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): That neighbor was an irate Michael Devlin.

(on camera): So he was getting angry at you just that quick?

BUSHELLE: When he pulled up, he was angry. When he saw my car here, he was already angry. It was -- I mean, just like...

MATTINGLY: Were you intimidated?

BUSHELLE: A little bit.

MATTINGLY: Did you think there was going to be a fight?

BUSHELLE: Yes. I mean, my first instinct is that I'm about to get in a fight with this guy.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): There wasn't a fight. At the time, Bushelle says Devlin was accompanied by the abducted Shawn Hornbeck. But in a move that no one today can understand, Bushelle says Devlin, himself, called the police.

BUSHELLE: That was my first and last run-in with him.

MATTINGLY: And other neighbors say they had problems as well.

Harry Reichard lives above Devlin and complains Devlin disturbed him with frequent late night shouting and unexplained noises.

HARRY REICHARD, MICHAEL DEVLIN'S NEIGHBOR: And the yelling and the vulgarity and everything, it's just ridiculous.

MATTINGLY: You never got a chance to talk to him about this though, did you?

REICHARD: No, I want to stay away from that guy. I don't like that man. He basically, you know -- you know, is somebody that I don't want to deal with.

MATTINGLY: But whatever problems Devlin might have had at home, they didn't follow him on the job.

He worked at this local pizzeria for 20 years, becoming a manager, and had a reputation for being dependable and good with the customers.

(on camera): Devlin worked here during the times that each of the two boys was reported missing. But his boss says he never saw any signs of any suspicious behavior.

In fact, the day before he was arrested Devlin was in this very restaurant having a friendly conversation with a police officer.

(voice-over): What was his demeanor during this conversation?

PROSPERI: Like you and I are talking right now. Just not -- his voice probably wasn't shaking as much as mine is. You know, he was just cool as could be.

MATTINGLY: Mike Prosperi says the 300 pound Devlin had health problems and recently quit smoking and was trying to lose weight.

Still, he kept his private life private and almost never missed work.

It wasn't until Devlin missed a day of work last week when Ben Ownby was reported missing and his vehicle matched a police description that Prosperi considered calling authorities.

PROSPERI: And even at that time, I told the captain, I said, I'm 99.9 percent sure that it's -- that this is not Mike.

MATTINGLY: It was the end of many long-standing perceptions and the beginning of many unanswered questions.

David Mattingly, CNN, Kirkwood, Missouri.


COOPER: Well, thankfully Ben and Shawn are safe at home tonight with their families. Both have healing to do.

For Shawn Hornbeck, the challenge may be greatest. He lost four years of his childhood. I recently talked to his parents, Pam and Craig Akers about what he's facing.


COOPER: How is Shawn doing? CRAIG AKERS, SHAWN HORNBECK'S STEPFATHER: He appears to be adjusting really well. You know, there's moments where I see that little 11-year-old boy again. He's just so overjoyed to be back with his parents, with his family, with his sisters.

He made the comment that this is the first time since he's been gone that he has felt safe.

COOPER: Craig, do you -- have you asked him any questions about what went on? I know you've indicated you think there was sexual abuse. Have you asked him?

C. AKERS: No. We're not going to push him for any answers. He will in his time tell us what he wants to tell us. You know, that was one of the pieces of advice that we got early on is to let Shawn be Shawn and when he's ready, he will tell you what he wants you to know.

COOPER: So what do you think it was that kept him there? What do you think it was that Michael Devlin said to him or threatened him with?

P. AKERS: At this point, we really doesn't know what that is. But Shawn did tell us that he was just terrified. So we do know that something has happened to him. For some reason or another, he was -- didn't feel that he could come home, because I feel in my heart that if Shawn was able to just up and walk out and not have to worry about anything else, I have no doubt in my mind he would have came home.

C. AKERS: We have to remember that when Shawn was taken, he was only 11 years old. You know, he's not the 15-year-old boy -- he wasn't the 15-year-old boy that he is now. He was 11 years old, very young, very impressionable.

And, you know, we don't have any clue what he was put through in that first month, first year that he was in captivity.

So, you know, it's not right for any of us to judge Shawn on that. We haven't been in his shoes. And until anyone has been in his shoes, they just don't have the right to judge him and say things like, well, he had all these opportunities to get away. That's just not fair. You don't know what that boy has been through.

COOPER: When you first saw him when he came back, I mean -- I don't want to intrude, but what was that moment like?

P. AKERS: Oh, just wonderful. I don't even know if there's words to explain how we were feeling. It was just -- emotions were just so overwhelming. And when I walked through that door and I seen him for the first time, I knew that was Shawn and I knew he was home and that we could make him safe again.

COOPER: Back in December -- I guess it was December 1st of 2005, there was a message left on a bulletin board, a Web site for the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation. And the question -- it was from a Shawn Devlin and it said, how long are you planning to look for your son. And then there was another note later apologizing. Were you aware of that note at the time? It's still not clear who sent that note, if anyone, if it was Shawn or Michael Devlin or, frankly, just some nut out there. Did you see that message at the time?

C. AKERS: Yes, I did see that message. And we now know that that was Shawn that posted that message. It was a way of him trying to reach out without endangering himself.

COOPER: There have been thousands of people praying and searching for Shawn over these many years. What is your message to those parents who are still out there?

I've talked to a lots of parents whose kids are still missing. We had a woman on, Patty Wetterling, whose son, Jacob, was taken in 1989. He was 11 years old. He's still missing. What is your message to those parents who are still out there?

P. AKERS: I would tell them just to never give up hope, never give up with the faith. Always keep your child's name and picture out there in front of the media, in front of the public, in front of your community. We as parents have to take that responsibility to make sure it's still out there.

And I want them to all know that they have the same possibility of having their miracle child home just as we did.

COOPER: Craig and Pam, thank you so much for doing this. It can't be easy, but I really do appreciate it. And it means -- I know you know it means a lot to other families who are out there waiting. So thank you very much.

P. AKERS: Thank you.

C. AKERS: Our pleasure.


COOPER: For the Akers, the nightmare began in October of 2002, the day Shawn disappeared. Just ahead, how that awful day unfolded.

Also ahead, what the last four years were like for Shawn as a captive. A captive in plain sight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was right out in the open. Literally.


COOPER: A boy free to come and go, ride his bike, go out with friends. The incredible details of Shawn's lost years, when "Taken: Children Lost and Found," continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: Bianca Noel Piper was 13 when last seen in March of 2005. Arlin Henderson was 11 when he disappeared in July of 1991. And Scott Kleeschulte was 9 when he vanished in 1998.

As we said before the break, investigators are now looking for possible links between these three unsolved cases and Michael Devlin.

Throughout the hour we're going to show you pictures of missing kids from the area where Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby lived and were found. If you have any information that could help find the missing call 1-800-THE-LOST.

In the four years that Shawn was missing, the police got a lot of tips, though none panned out.

Still, in his hometown of Richwoods, Missouri, they never gave up hope.

CNN's David Mattingly reports.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): In 2002, Shawn Hornbeck was a smiling 11-year-old boy growing up in a small town 20 miles from the nearest interstate. Just a regular kid who liked "Sponge Bob" and PlayStation.

But when he disappeared riding his bike on an October Sunday afternoon, Shawn became a symbol of every parent's worst fear.

P. AKERS: That's what's killing us, not knowing anything at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As time goes on, it just, you know, it just gets scary. Just want him to come home.

MATTINGLY: Richwoods, Missouri, resident Wayne Evans joined the search at the very beginning. The town was turned upside down. Then, Evans says, attention turned to these nearby woods.

WAYNE EVANS, RICHWOODS RESIDENT: With kids, there's a lot of caves around here and there's a lot of things that a child could explore.

MATTINGLY: In just the first few days, help was abundant, and so was hope.

Former Fire Chief Rose Hoffmann remembers believing Shawn would be found quickly and found alive.

ROSE HOFFMANN, FORMER FIRE CHIEF: We've had missing kids before where they were lost in the woods, you know, something like that. And we always found them.

MATTINGLY: But this time the search was fruitless. Shawn vanished without leaving a single clue. P. AKERS: At this point, I'm clueless. I wish I had the answers, but I don't. This is totally out of the ordinary for him. He's never been late. He's scared of the dark.

MATTINGLY: The news media carried the heartbreaking emotions throughout the state and beyond. It wasn't unusual for volunteers to field 200 calls a day. None of it helped find Shawn.

(on camera): But when the crowds and the cameras went away, this town continued its search, even though they had nothing to go on. They treated every theory as if it were believable, no matter how unbelievable or how dreadful it may have sounded.

One popular theory had Shawn murdered in the woods by operators of secret meth labs. Another suggested he was hit by a car, then taken away by a panicked hit-and-run driver. None of the theories included the idea that Shawn was still alive.

(on camera): At any point, did you start to despair?

EVANS: You know, the stories I would hear from the day he disappeared until recently have just been the most horrendous things that people could even imagine -- I couldn't even imagine the things that people were calling in with. So after a while, you hear so many stories, that you just assume the worst.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And it would be years before the news finally got better.

David Mattingly, CNN, Richwoods, Missouri.


COOPER: It would be more than four years, in fact. And during that time, Shawn was held captive in a suburban St. Louis apartment just 50 miles from his hometown -- 50 miles.

He apparently had the freedom to go outside and to use the Internet. So why didn't he try to escape? We may never know the answer, but we've learned more about the life he shared with Michael Devlin.

Once again, here's David Mattingly.


MATTINGLY: As an 11-year-old, Shawn Hornbeck was afraid of the dark. And then on Sunday, October 6, 2002, everything about him faded into darkness.

No one dared to imagine that the boy whose abduction was all over the local news, whose face was seen across the country on missing posters could be so close and living in plain sight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was right out in the open, literally. MATTINGLY: Just 50 miles from his hometown of Richwoods, Missouri, Hornbeck was living at this small apartment complex in the town of Kirkwood, with accused kidnapper Michael Devlin and surrounded by neighbors.

JONES: I saw Mike teaching him how to drive and then later on I saw Shawn driving around by his self. So I just assumed that that was his father.

MATTINGLY: Devlin was known around the apartment complex for his temper, but also for keeping to himself.

ALMA RODRIGUEZ, NEIGHBOR: It seemed to me he was just a working man and he'd come and go and he'd just be private.

MATTINGLY: Devlin kept busy working two jobs, one as the manager at Imo's Pizzeria, and the other as a part-time telephone attendant at Bob's Funeral Parlor.

Rarely meeting up with old friends for a fishing trip or poker game, Devlin never mentioned keeping a young boy in his apartment. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to his employer or friends.

ROB HART, MICHAEL DEVLIN'S FRIEND: I hate to be the guy to use the cliche that he seemed like a normal guy, but he really did. And it looks to me like he really led two separate lives and kept them completely separated and kept his activities on the personal side really to himself.

MATTINGLY (on camera): And while Devlin was away working, friends and neighbors say Hornbeck seemed like the typical teenager, talking on the phone, riding his bike, hanging out with friends at this local convenience store.

(voice-over): But the one typical thing he did not do is attend school, one of many things neighbors say they did not pick up on.

JONES: I did see him go in and out of the apartment all the time. He'd usually lock up in the daytime with his keys and take off on his bike. Sometimes he'd be wearing a backpack and sometimes he didn't. So that's why I thought he went to like an alternative school or something like that, because it would be all different hours.

MATTINGLY: There are many unanswered questions, including whether Hornbeck had Internet access. Someone who used the name Shawn Devlin posted a message on a Web site set up by Shawn's parents saying, how long are you planning to look for your son?

And their son may have stayed hidden in plain sight had it not been for another shocking abduction. And this time, an important clue.

A witness spotted a white pickup truck leaving the scene where 13-year-old Ben Ownby vanished walking home from the school bus. That pickup truck was later linked to Devlin by two police officers at his apartment complex. What followed was shock and a miracle.

BILL ROMER, MICHAEL DEVLIN'S LANDLORD: So from that standpoint, it's kind of fortunate that Ben was abducted and found so quickly. Some people are calling him like Shawn's guardian angel.

MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN, Kirkwood, Missouri.


COOPER: The search for Shawn Hornbeck went on for years. And during that time artists had to guess what he might look like as a teenager. Just ahead, how close did their drawings come?

Plus, someone who knows firsthand what Shawn and his family are facing. Ed smart, his daughter Elizabeth was missing nine months before she was found. I'll talk to him when, "Taken: Children Lost and Found," continues.


COOPER: Gina Dawn Brooks, another missing child from Missouri. She'd now be 29 years old. If you have any information about her, call 1-800-THE-LOST.

A missing child poster is only as good as the picture on it, but pictures are, of course, snapshots in time. The challenge for investigators is to update the images as time goes by.

During the four years that Shawn went missing, forensic artists had to guess what he looked like as he got older. How close did their drawings come? Well, see for yourself.

Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Katelyn Rivera-Helton disappeared in Pennsylvania in 1999, she was 1-year-old and looked like this. Now, eight years later, forensic artists think she might look like this.

At the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children, they have many so-called age-progressed photos.

And Larry Bonney hopes you will take a hard look whenever you see one.

LARRY BONNEY, NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: The trick is that, if you live next door to this child, or you have this child in -- in your grade school class, and you're a schoolteacher, and then you see the age-progressed photograph, that may ring a bell, and say, boy, that looks an awful lot like Jimmy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Be thorough. Just take your time. FOREMAN: Drawing a child who has been missing for years depends on precise knowledge of human growth and genetics. Artists typically look at pictures of the missing child's relatives.

BONNEY: If a child is taken at 2, and they are now 10, they will get pictures from the family at age 10.

FOREMAN (on camera): Of mom and dad?

BONNEY: Mom, dad, yes, of, you know, blood relatives. Immediate family is what they are looking for, assuming that genetic traits will remain fairly constant as the child grows.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Look at Shawn Hornbeck from when he disappeared at the age of 11, four years ago. To age his image, artists first considered typical adolescent growth patterns. They made his face longer, his hair and eyebrows darker. The eyes, themselves, somewhat more narrow. His nose was lengthened and his cheekbones were made more prominent. His mouth was drawn a little wider. His chin made more distinct.

It's all blended, and this is how forensic artists thought Shawn would look at 15. And here he is.

(on camera): In the end, all of this is a little bit about science, a little bit about art, and a lot about math, about simply improving the odds that a missing child will be spotted.

BONNEY: We want to keep these kids out there in front of the public. The children need to have people looking for them.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And that's a need that does not change, even as years pass.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, Shawn's family never stopped looking for him. Now that he's home, he faces the challenge of reclaiming his life.

Ed smart knows what that's like. His daughter, Elizabeth, faced the same challenge. My interview with him is just ahead.

Also, the agony of unanswered questions.


JANICE MCKINNEY, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL: Four o'clock, the bus came and we heard it. And she just never came up the driveway.


COOPER: Like Ben Ownby, her daughter got off her school bus, but never made it home. That was 20 years ago. Her story, when this special edition of 360, "Taken: Children Lost and Found," continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Donna Jean was 16 when last seen in February in 1992 in Belleville, Illinois. If you've seen her, call 1-800-THE-LOST with tips.

We all remember, of course, Elizabeth Smart. It's been almost five years since she was taken from her bedroom in the middle of the night. Nine months later she was found alive.

Her father, Ed, knows the void that a missing child leaves and the joy of getting her back. He also knows that the story doesn't end there.

I talked to him recently.


COOPER: Ed, when -- when you think about Shawn Hornbeck, he was gone for -- for four years. The transition back to, I guess not his old life, but to whatever his new life will be, his -- back to his -- his family, has got to be extraordinarily difficult.

You have been in similar circumstances. What -- what can you tell us about what it's like?

ED SMART, FATHER OF ELIZABETH SMART: Well, I think one thing that's so important is that these kids know that it was not their fault, that nobody has the right to do this to them, and that, you know, we do not hold them responsible for what happened. We don't place any blame on them.

You know, when Elizabeth came home, I was absolutely amazed at how strong she was. And I think that, you know, there are definitely difficulties there and things that have to be overcome. But I think that feeling loved, and not blame, and the surroundings of those who love you can do more good than anything can out there.

COOPER: She was gone for nine months. When she came back, was she a different Elizabeth than -- than the -- the girl who had left?

SMART: You know, I can't help but think that that definitely had an impact on her.

But I felt like her core values, the things that she believed in and that she knew was right, were there. And I think that it didn't take her much time at all to move back into the family and move forward with her life.

You know, the night that she came home, dad, I want to go sleep in my bed, and I'll be here in the morning.

And that was just like, wow. I couldn't believe it.

COOPER: You know, there are reports coming out now that Shawn was told -- was threatened -- or -- or told that his family would be hurt if he left. And, obviously, those are early reports.

But I know Elizabeth was told similar things by her kidnappers.

SMART: Absolutely.

I mean, if you put yourself in their position -- for example, Elizabeth, that night she was taken, her sister was sitting there watching this whole thing happen, seeing the knife at her side, and being told, if you yell out, I'm going to kill you and I'm going to kill your family.

You know, when you've got a knife at your side, certainly, that is about as real as life comes. And, you know, not only is pressure on her survival, but what's going to happen to my family?

You know, when I hear comments made that, you know, well, he didn't want to go back to school, that's why he never broke out, I just think they're inexcusable. Those children, I believe, feel responsible, not only for their own selves, but for their families and what happens if I don't do what he tells me to do?

And, since they have experienced firsthand a relative amount of violence, you know, they know that that's very real, and this guy's capable of doing it.

COOPER: Ben Ownby said today that he's ready to go back to school. I know Elizabeth is back in school. She's at Brigham Young University. How is she doing?

SMART: She's doing so well. I just have all the hope for both Ben and Shawn that they can get back in school, that, you know, on -- in Elizabeth's case, when she got back to school, for the most part, the kids were terrific. Her friends were there for her.

And, you know, they just took her right back in. And, you know, she was Elizabeth, not the Elizabeth Smart that was abducted.

COOPER: Well, let's hope Ben and Shawn can be treated just the same way.

Ed, thanks for -- thanks for talking.

SMART: Thank you, Anderson.


COOPER: Sadly, not all parents are so lucky. Some questions are never answered. Just ahead, a mother whose child was taken two decades ago, a day that haunts her.

Also coming up, keeping your child safe from kidnappers. Tips on how they can get away if someone tries to take them.

This is a special edition of 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: That little boy would be 12 today. He was seen last in St. Louis. If you've seen him, call 1-800-THE-LOST with tips.

Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck are safe at home back with their families. Both boys extremely lucky. Some missing children, of course, are never found, leaving their families with unanswered and simply unbearable questions.

For Janice McKinney, the nightmare began more than two decades ago.

CNN's Randi Kaye has her story.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When news broke that Ben Ownby had been snatched after getting off his school bus in Missouri, tears were shed a thousand miles away in Pennsylvania by a mother who didn't know the Ownbys, but knew their pain.

Janice McKinney's daughter was just 8 when she hopped off her school bus and vanished.

JANICE MCKINNEY, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL: Four o'clock, the bus came and we heard it. And she just never came up the driveway.

KAYE: That was February 22, 1985.

MCKINNEY: I should have been there when Cherrie got off the school bus, and I wasn't.

KAYE: Cherrie Mahan's mom had always walked her daughter to and from the bus stop. But on this day, she decided to let Cherrie walk home alone.

(on camera): What is that moment of panic like, that first moment when you realize your child has disappeared?

MCKINNEY: I think my guilt started at that point, because up until that day, I was there. And if I would have been there, she wouldn't -- I wouldn't be going through this.

KAYE: It was a day just like this one, snow on the ground, the sun shining. Cherrie got off her school bus right here. She had to go about 200 feet around that bend to get to her driveway, then another 300 feet to her front door. Investigators never found any footprints, which means Cherrie never got very far.

(voice-over): Children on the school bus described a blue van right behind the bus with a snow capped mountain and a skier painted on its side.

Investigators checked out hundreds of leads. No van, no suspects, no Cherrie.

Retired Trooper Glen Hall worked the case from day one. GLEN HALL, RETIRED TROOPER: I feel that maybe there's something I overlooked at the time, but I followed every lead that I got.

KAYE (voice-over): It was Cherrie who put a face on missing children nationwide. The first child ever on a "Have you Seen Me?" mailer delivered to homes around the country.

MCKINNEY: That was her dog and that was her cat.

KAYE: This year, Cherrie would be 31. And this is what investigators think she might look like.

After 13 years of searching, Cherrie's family asked the state to officially declare her dead. But at the family cemetery plot, there is an angel, not a grave stone.

MCKINNEY: We live in a society where we need to see something. Until I see something or hold something or know something, I can't put it to rest yet.

KAYE: Janice McKinney calls what happened in Missouri a miracle. Twenty-two years later, she's still waiting for hers.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Mars, Pennsylvania.


COOPER: Sadly, Janice McKinney's story isn't unique.

Patter Wetterling's son, Jacob, was kidnapped 17 years ago, when he was just 11. He'd be 28 today. His mother, Patty, has turned her grief into activism.

She says that Ben and Shawn's rescue gives all families in her position hope. I spoke to her recently.


COOPER: Patty, I think it's probably impossible for people who aren't in your situation to understand what it is like day in and day out, month after month, year after year, to have a child still missing. Can you describe it for us?

PATTY WETTERLING, JACOB WETTERLING FOUNDATION: Gosh, it's like a continuous long journey, much of it being a nightmare. And it is -- it's filled with looking at suspects, looking at some really terrible leads and many times you think, well, I hope it's not that guy or I hope it isn't this body that they found.

And it's coming home to leads on the voice message at our home and it's getting things in the mail, and it's watching the news as they discover something else. And it's a very continuous journey.

And that's one thing, that once it leaves the media, people don't understand that it still continues on the family's side. It's something that never quits. COOPER: And everyone else moves on, but of course it's impossible for you to move on.

You know, people use that terrible word on TV, closure, which I think is just the most ridiculous word. If you've ever lost somebody you know, there is no such thing as closure.

WETTERLING: No. It's insane. It's an inappropriate word because nothing will close this. I can't go back to being the person that I was. Jacob could never go back to being the person that he was. You just open a new door, a new chapter, but you're never like closing the book.

I think you find closure when you die. But as long as you're alive, you're being moved to different venues. And it's not a word that really fits, missing children, I don't think.

COOPER: With every new case, though, there is the hope that maybe it will lead to something that will have a connection to Jacob?

WETTERLING: That's right. That is right. And it is -- it's all -- you know, our hope is strong. Every time there's a missing child, that this one ends up differently or that this child is found alive and that we can learn more about how we can find these kids more effectively and quicker and more of them return home sooner and alive. And we always are interested in following closely.

COOPER: Because of your work that you're doing, your advocacy work, you have talked to kids who have been taken and who have been returned.

What is -- can you tell us what you have learned from them about what it is like to be held? I mean, I think there are a lot of people who understand that a kid is not going to run away, or even if the kid has an opportunity to run away, they're too scared to. But the level of manipulation, I think, it's probably hard to understand for a lot of people.

WETTERLING: You know, in Jacob's case and in many of the cases I've talked to, you've got an 11-year-old child, for example, or 13. And they're taking the basic information that they have today and making the best decision they have. If somebody tells them, if you cooperate, I'll let you live, they're going to cooperate.

COOPER: And as we learn more about this alleged perpetrator, Michael Devlin, it's stunning that people in the community, you know, had questions, had sort of gut instincts, but didn't really follow through on them.

And that's got to be upsetting for you to know that there are people out there who see things. And we all see things, but kind of write them off or explain them away. And if people didn't do that, it could make a difference.

WETTERLING: Absolutely. Missing -- families of missing children are totally dependent on the general public in terms of coming forward and offering what they saw and letting police investigate it further.

And, you know, innocent people don't mind the questions. They'll cooperate, because they also want to find the child. So we always tell people -- we tell children as well, trust your gut. Trust your instincts if somebody makes you feel uncomfortable. And we're telling adults that. If somebody -- some situation does not look or feel right, be there for the child, stick up for the child. That's what we need.

COOPER: Well, Patty, thanks for what you're doing and thanks for being with us tonight. Thank you.

WETTERLING: Thanks for keeping the hope alive. I appreciate it.


COOPER: These are the kind of stories that keep parents awake at night worrying.

Coming up, teaching your child to fight back if they come face to face with a kidnapper. Tips from an expert that could save a child's life.

Also ahead, the most baffling part of Shawn Hornbeck's ordeal.


COOPER: Frequently left alone and playing with friends in plain sight. So why did Shawn Hornbeck stay?

JOHN WALSH, HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": When he kidnapped this boy, he probably broke him down psychologically. And Shawn Hornbeck did what he had to do to survive.


COOPER: Up next, a look at the power kidnappers have over their victims when "Taken: Children Lost and Found," continues.


COOPER: Another missing child last seen near Collinsville, Illinois. If you've seen him, call 1-800-THE-LOST with tips.

We now know Shawn wasn't locked behind closed doors. He had friend, a bike, seemingly some opportunities to escape, but he didn't. Some experts say that Shawn may have fallen victim to what's known as the Stockholm Syndrome.

CNN's Randi Kaye investigates.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the four years that Shawn Hornbeck was missing, not once did he get word to his family he was alive, nor did he run away. Even though police say he was free to play outside, even sleep at a friend's house.

(on camera): Why wouldn't he reach out?

DR. JEFFREY LIEBERMAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY DIR. OF PSYCHIATRY: It absolutely defies the imagination as to how somebody who wasn't being intensively monitored 24/7 would not have sought to communicate the pleas to their families or sought to escape. That's the most puzzling and troubling aspect of this case.

KAYE (voice-over): Columbia University's Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman says a condition called Stockholm Syndrome likely prevented Shawn from getting help.

LIEBERMAN: The captive is developing a certain psychological reaction to the situation, which is geared principally to ensure their survival.

KAYE: Lieberman says the mind kicks into survival mode. It inverts itself to change bad to good and suspend reality.

LIEBERMAN: Rather than fight for their freedom, as some people would do, their approach is, I'm going to be cooperative and submissive to the captor.

KAYE: It even goes beyond that. Victims often end up protecting their abductors.

The syndrome got its name during a bank heist in Stockholm, Sweden, back in 1973, captured here in this newspaper photo. When the hostages were freed, two refused to testify against their captors and one even got engaged to one of the bad guys.

LIEBERMAN: They begin to develop a relationship with the individual.

KAYE: Case in point, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart, abducted at gunpoint from her bedroom in 2002. Lieberman says fear and psychological submission prevented the Utah girl from taking advantage of opportunities to escape.

Children, Lieberman says, are far more susceptible to Stockholm Syndrome than adults.

Still, newspaper heiress Patty Hearst may be the best example of it. Hearst, at 19 was kidnapped, imprisoned in a closet and sexually assaulted. But later robbed a bank with her captors and remained on the run with them for more than a year.

PATTY HEARST, KIDNAPPED BY THE SLA: You have been so abused and so robbed of your free will and so frightened that you believe at -- you come to a point where you believe any lie that your abductor has told you. You're not even thinking about trying to get help anymore.

KAYE: When Beirut hostage Terry Waite was freed after more than four years in solitary confinement...

LIEBERMAN: He became sympathetic to their ideologies, their politics while he was their captive.

KAYE: And remember Natasha Kampusch? She just escaped last August after being held in an Austrian dungeon for eight years. Her abductor committed suicide after she got away. Yet Natasha returned to light a candle at his coffin.

(on camera): To what extent do these hostages develop a sense of gratitude for being kept alive?

LIEBERMAN: It's a tremendously powerful force. I mean, there -- you can be thankful for somebody having spared your life when they've just subjected you to all manner of inhuman treatment.

KAYE (voice-over): Stockholm Syndrome may take just days to appear, but Lieberman says it could take years to recover from.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, it only takes a moment for a child to be taken. And it often happens close to home, on the way to the bus or riding a bike.

Terrifying, but not hopeless. You can teach your child to fight back. Things to be careful about. Just ahead, tips that could save a child's life, when this special edition of 360, "Taken: Children Lost and Found."


COOPER: Another child still missing. If you've seen her face, call 1-800-THE-LOST.

It's something parents don't want to think about, but the sad fact is your child could become the target of a predator.

Rather than feel helpless, there are things you can do to make sure your kids know how to fight back if they come face to face with an abductor.

We got some tips from Family Safety Expert Bob Stuber.

My first question for him...


COOPER: What if someone's following you in a car? Here's his advice.

BOB STUBER, FAMILY SAFETY EXPERT: If somebody's following you in a car and you feel that this is a dangerous situation, take off running. That's the right thing to do. But choose your direction. Run the opposite direction that the car is pointed. This gives you a head start, makes it harder for them to chase you, because they have to turn around and by the time they do, you can already be finding somebody that can save you.

COOPER: For a lot of parents, it's a nightmare thinking about their child being thrown into the trunk of a car. If a kid is in the trunk of a car, is there anything they can do then?

STUBER: You know, there's not a lot you can do in the trunk of a car. You can kick and scream. Nobody is going to hear you, nobody's going to see you.

But Here's something that will work. Disconnect the break or taillight wires. Now, you can teach a 3-year-old, 4-year-old how to do this. You pull them real tight, the wires at the rear of the trunk. It takes the brake or taillights out. Now, the police may pull that -- in fact, there's a 50 percent chance that the cops will pull the car over, not because you're in the trunk but because it has no brake or taillights. Then they're going to be able to hear you and come and rescue you.

COOPER: All right, what about if a little kid is on a bike?

STUBER: That's a big one right there. And this technique has saved people's lives around the country. If you're riding your bike and somebody tries to grab you off that bike, which is a common scenario, hold on to the bike. Don't let go. By holding the bike, you make yourself too big and too bulky to be put into a car. And it's very hard to separate a child from a bike. And keep remembering these guys have to work fast. They don't have time to sit around and play wit this.

COOPER: That's good advice, holding onto the bike.

What if you're at home, a child's at home, is there one most important safety tip for them to do when they're there?

STUBER: You know, there's a bunch for when you're at home, but the one most important one is don't unlock the door. As long as you're on the inside of that locked door, you're in control. But as soon as you unlock it and even open it just a crack to talk to somebody, you've compromised everything and somebody can push their way in. Keep that door locked. You can look through the peek hole, you can talk through the door. You can look out a window. Don't unlock the door.

COOPER: Bob Stuber, good advice. Thanks.

STUBER: You bet.


COOPER: Well, we all hope your children never have to use these tips, but better be prepared than not.

Again, if you have any information about any of the children whose pictures we've shown you tonight, call that number, 1-800-THE- LOST.

Thanks for watching this special edition of 360, "Taken: Children Lost and Found." I'm Anderson Cooper.


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