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Shawn willing to testify if necessary, parents say

Story Highlights

• Parents say of Missouri kidnapping victim Shawn Hornbeck: "He'll do it"
• Mom hopes suspect will "do the right thing" so boys won't have to take stand
• Michael J. Devlin pleads not guilty to felony kidnapping, faces more charges
• Shawn, 15, Ben Ownby, 13, found January 12 in man's apartment
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The parents of a 15-year-old boy who was found last week in the apartment of his alleged abductor said they expect him to testify in court if necessary.

Their son, Shawn Hornbeck, was 11 when he was kidnapped in 2002 while riding his bike near his rural home in Missouri. He and another boy, Ben Ownby, 13, were found in the St. Louis-area apartment January 12. Ben had been missing for four days.

Shawn's parents, Pam and Craig Akers, in an interview broadcast Friday told CNN's "American Morning" they're hesitant to put their son on the stand, but Shawn is willing to testify. (Watch parents describe why Shawn isn't talking about his ordeal Video)

"He'll do it," they said. "Shawn will do it." But Pam Akers also pleaded with the man accused in the case, Michael J. Devlin, 41, to do what's necessary to keep the boys from having to testify. (Read the criminal complaint against Devlinexternal link)

"One thing I would like to say to him is if he has any decency in his body he would do the right thing and not make these boys go through that again," she said.

The Akerses told Oprah Winfrey in an interview broadcast Thursday that they believe Devlin sexually assaulted their son, but on Friday they said they haven't yet asked Shawn to reveal details about his abduction. The parents said they plan to ask him "when the time is right." (Watch parents say why they believe boy was abused Video)

When asked if they thought their son had been sexually abused, Pam Akers said, "I don't want everybody to think that he had this perfect life with this guy. There's no way he had a perfect life with this guy."

Devlin was arraigned Thursday on a felony kidnapping charge in Ben's abduction. Devlin pleaded not guilty. (Watch what Devlin told police Video)

He also faces charges in a neighboring county of kidnapping and using a deadly weapon in Shawn's abduction. That arraignment date has not yet been set.

He has not been charged with sexual assault. The investigation is ongoing. (Watch Devlin enter his plea by video link Video)

At a news conference after the arraignment, Franklin County prosecutor Robert Parks said Devlin confessed to kidnapping Ben. (Full story)

Ben Ownby was abducted January 8. The two boys were discovered four days later in Devlin's Kirkwood, Missouri, apartment after officers questioning Devlin about his truck -- which matched the description of a vehicle seen on Ben's street when he was abducted -- became suspicious about his demeanor.

Devlin's two jobs often took him away from the modest two-bedroom apartment they shared.

'He kept the faith'

Craig Akers said his reaction was tears when Shawn described watching his parents on television pleading for help with their search.

Pam Akers said it was painful to know "that he had to see us that way. That he wasn't able to just come home to us. But he said that did help him keep going and help him survive cause he knew one day that we was going to find him and bring him home. He kept the faith just like we did."

"We would have kept going until the end of our lives," she said. "We would have never stopped looking for him."

Mysterious Web postings

A series of Web postings, some under the name "Shawn Devlin," have raised questions about whether Shawn was trying to send clues about his real identity.

At 1:59 a.m. on December 1, 2005, a "Shawn Devlin" asked in a forum on the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation Web site: "How long are you planing (sic) to look for your son?" Shawn's parents formed the foundation to help find their son and other missing youngsters.

Later that same day, at 2:56 p.m., "Shawn Devlin" wrote to ask if he could compose a poem for the family. The poem never appeared in future postings.

Other Web profiles also appeared to be of Shawn, including the profile on, which described "Shawn" as a single atheist with a pet cat living in Kirkwood.

Craig Akers said the Web postings did not throw up a "red flag" that his son might be reaching out for help.

"I remember reading it," he said. "[I thought it was] somebody else yanking my chain again. We get postings on a message board almost on a daily basis that we would delete as soon as we saw them."

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Pam and Craig Akers said they don't want their son to relive his ordeal, but he'll testify if necessary.



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