Devlin Now Facing 74 Total Charges in Missouri

Yesterday, a total of 71 new criminal charges were filed against Michael J. Devlin, as well as a request to take these charges before a second Grand Jury.  Adding these to the existing charges Devlin faces in Franklin and Washington Counties, a combined total of 74 charges have been filed as of now.


Robert McCullouch, DA for St. Louis County (which is the county where Devlin resided and where both Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck were discovered), announced yesterday that his office is filing 71 charges against Devlin for the alleged crimes committed at Devlin’s residence.  Specifically, these charges relate to Devlin’s forced captivity of both boys at his residence.


Under Missouri law, kidnapping can be committed by not only abducting a person from a place, but also by preventing a person from leaving a place.  And it is under this second definition that these new charges have been filed.


Of these 71 charges, one charge of Class A Child Kidnapping and 17 charges of Forcible Sodomy by use of forcible compulsion have been filed in relation to Ben Ownby.  Of those charges relating to the abduction in 2002 of Shawn Hornbeck and his nearly five years of captivity, Devlin will face one count of Class B Kidnapping and 52 additional counts of Forcible Sodomy by use of forcible compulsion.


In the Original Complaint by St. Louis County, all charges of Forcible Sodomy specify the use of forcible compulsion.  Forcible compulsion is defined under Section 566.060 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri as including “the use of a substance administered without a victim’s knowledge or consent which renders the victim physically or mentally impaired so as to be incapable of making an informed consent to sexual intercourse.”


Franklin County authorities were the first to file criminal charges against Devlin, where he appeared by remote video from jail to answer at his arraignment.  There, Devlin faces child kidnapping charges for the abduction of Ben Ownby.  Their prosecuting attorney immediately announced his intent to take the charges against Devlin before his county’s Grand Jury to convene this month.


In Washington County, Devlin waived his appearance at arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty last week for a charge of Kidnapping of Shawn Hornbeck, as well as a charge of Armed Criminal Action for using a handgun in committing Shawn’s abduction.


It is important to note that the Class A Child Kidnapping charge (child defined as under the age of 14 years) did not exist when Shawn Hornbeck was abducted, which is why the kidnapping charges differ between the cases surrounding Hornbeck and Ownby.  The Child Kidnapping charge carries with it much more severe penalties that its predecessor, as well.  The old law carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, while the new one  allows a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.


The Forcible Sodomy law carries a sentence maximum of life imprisonment and minimum of five years.  And under this statute, McCullough charges Devlin with having kidnapped Hornbeck “without his consent for a substantial period, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of the felony of forcible sodomy.”


Authorities have already stated that Devlin has confessed to committing these crimes while incarcerated.


So, for those keeping score at home, Michael J. Devlin faces now a combined total of two counts of child kidnapping, two counts of kidnapping (under the old law), one count of Armed Criminal Action, and 69 charges of sodomy.


The actual breakdown is as follows:


Child Kidnapping, Class A Felony, 1 Count in Franklin County, Missouri

Kidnapping, Facilitating A Felony, Inflicting Injury, 1 Count in Washington County

Armed Criminal Action, 1 Count in Washington County

Child Kidnapping, Class A Felony, 1 Count in St. Louis County

Kidnapping, Class B Felony, 1 Count in St. Louis County

Forcible Sodomy of W.B.O., 17 Counts in St. Louis County

Forcible Sodomy of S.H., 52 Counts in St. Louis County

The Post-Dispatch article by Tim O’Neil and William C. Lhotka can be read in its entirety at


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