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Shawn Hornbeck - Overview, Appearance On The Oprah Winfrey Show, Stockholm Syndrome

devlin home boy kidnapping

Shawn Damian Hornbeck was born in 1991 in Missouri. He made headlines following his diappearance in October of 2002, at the age of 11. His parents reported him missing after he failed to return home from a bike ride. The boy was found alive in 2007. The police believe Hornbeck was kidnapped and continually brutalized by Michael J. Devlin, a pizza delivery-man and worker in a funeral home. During the time period in which Hornbeck was missing, his parents made many televison appearances in an attempt to publicize their search for their son. They sought help from renowned psychics Sylvia Browne and James Van Praagh, both of whom stated that Shawn was dead and even gave instructions on where to search for his body. His parents decided to found the Shawn Hornbeck foundation,a charity that helps families search for and rescue abducted children. In January 2007, Hornbeck was discovered alive, in the home of Michael Devlin in Kirkwood, Missouri. Devlin was charged with kidnapping, abusing, and attempting to kill Hornbeck as well as the kidnapping and assault of 13-year-old Ben Ownby, who had disappeared just days before his kidnapper was captured. Michael Devlin is charged with over 60 counts of abuse, assault, and kidnapping. Devlin is currently held on a $1 million bond. Shawn made many appearances with his family on television, following his rescue, but his family has begun to stay away from the spotlight, in an attempt to give Shawn a more normal life as well as the chance to heal.

Appearance On The Oprah Winfrey Show

Oprah Winfrey made Hornbeck and his family the subject of a 2007 show. The show contained a pretaped interview. Oprah has stated that Shawn told her he never tried to escape because he was “terrified.” The boy was forced to bargain for his life when he was just 11-years-old by promising not to try to leave as Devlin strangled the boy, in an attempt to kill him. Oprah asked many questrions of Shawn and his family, which some believed were invasive. Many believe that the media-blitz surrounding the boy is stalling his ability to begin recovery following his long ordeal. It was reported on the show that Shawn had not attended school, but did have a few friends in the neighborhood. Tony Douglas, one of the boy’s neighbors, considered Shawn his “best friend,” and, incredibly, stayed nights over at Devlin’s home, whom the boy believed was Shawn’s father. Shawn told Tony that his mother had died in a car accident and that he was home schooled. Tony’s stepmother has testified that Shawn would sometimes see coverage about his disappearance on TV, but did not appear affected.

Stockholm Syndrome

Shawn is believed to have suffered from Stockholm Syndrome- in which victims of crime begin to identify and sympathize with their abusers. Several news organizations have reported that Shawn may have visited ShawnHornbeck.com, leaving messages, signed “Shawn Devlin” in which he asked questions about the search. Other kidnapping victims have rejected the diagnosis of Stockholm Syndrome, claiming that survival was their reason for compliance. They feared death if their escape was not successful.

She Lives [next] [back] Shaw, Stan (1952–)

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