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Boy tries to reconnect with old life after 4 years

Story Highlights

NEW: Shawn Hornbeck, 15, catches up with relatives he hasn't seen in 4 years
• Officers had 'an uneasy feeling' after talking to kidnapping suspect
• They alerted the FBI and agents found two kidnapped boys
• Accused abductor Michael Devlin's boss became suspicious about truck, time off
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KIRKWOOD, Missouri (CNN) -- As questions mounted about his abduction and how it lasted more than four years, a 15-year-old boy spent Monday with relatives -- including some born since he disappeared.

"He's been very busy trying to reunite with his family and friends, getting caught up on events that have happened since his disappearance," Washington County Sheriff Kevin Schroeder said about Shawn Hornbeck.

Shawn was found Friday along with 13-year-old William "Ben" Ownby, who was last seen a week ago. The two were in the apartment of 41-year-old Michael Devlin. (Watch two police officers describe the gut feeling that led them to Devlin Video)

Devlin was arrested and has been charged with one count of first-degree kidnapping. He is being held on $1 million bail, and prosecutors say more charges are likely.

The single kidnapping count allows authorities to hold onto Devlin while an investigation is under way, Schroeder explained. "Any number of charges can be expected," he said.

Asked in Washington whether Devlin could face federal charges, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said, "Let's work with the local authorities and see what happens."

Passed as father and son

Devlin's arrest stunned his friends and neighbors. Several said Devlin presented Shawn as his son, and they believed him. (Watch what is known about Devlin Video)

People in Kirkwood, a St. Louis suburb, said they had seen Shawn spend time biking on his own and hanging out with friends, apparently unwatched by Devlin.

Investigators are looking into why Shawn did not use that apparent freedom to tell authorities who he was or to contact his parents. (Watch why child may be loyal to abductor Video)

Bill Romer, Devlin's landlord, said the suspect had identified Shawn as his son and listed him as a second occupant in the unit.

"I don't know what I would have or could have done differently," he said. If he had run a background check on Devlin, it would have only shown traffic violations.

Romer said other residents also believed the story. "They actually said, 'You look exactly like Shawn Hornbeck.' Shawn blew it off and said, 'Whatever.' It is all really strange," he said.

Psychologists who study kidnappings say abductors sometimes convince children that they are their real parents or that their real parents aren't coming for them.

Internet access investigated

Questions about what Shawn believed deepened Monday.

Web sites that track crime posted links to Internet profiles that someone placed online using the last name Devlin -- an indication that Shawn may have had Internet access.

On December 1, 2005, someone identifying himself as Shawn Devlin of Kirkwood posted a message on a Web site that Shawn's parents had set up,

It read, "how long are you planing (sic) to look for your son?" Later that day the same person apparently posted a new message apologizing for the previous one and asking if it would be OK to write a poem for Shawn Hornbeck.

Two police officers who frequented the pizzeria where Devlin worked ran into him, as he was taking out trash from his apartment, the officers said.

Kirkwood Police Officer Gary Wagster and his partner, Officer Chris Nelson, asked Devlin about his white truck, similar in description to one investigators were seeking in Ownby's kidnapping. Devlin's "whole demeanor changed," Nelson said.

"It went from a casual conversation, 180 degrees from that," he told CNN. Wagster said they left with "an uneasy feeling," and decided to alert the FBI.

Investigators returned to Devlin's apartment on Friday to find not only Ben, but Shawn as well.

Mike Prosperi, owner of Imo's, the pizza shop Devlin managed, said Devlin's discussion of his personal life usually involved his mother or brother -- "never any mention of children."

Boss was suspicious

"He's worked for me for 25 years," Prosperi told reporters. "There's not too many people who stay in the same job for 25 years. He was my manager. He counted my money, and you just don't do that with someone you don't trust."

But Prosperi said he became suspicious of Devlin when he thought about his employee's white truck and the sick day he took the day Ben disappeared.

He told St. Louis television station KSDK that he reported that concern to a friend in the police department. The department said investigators were getting ready to look into the tip when Wagster and Nelson spotted the truck themselves.

"I just can't understand how all that time nobody knew," Prosperi said.

Shawn had been last reported seen in his hometown of Richwoods, about 50 miles south of Kirkwood.

Ben had last been seen last Monday getting off a school bus in Franklin County, west of St. Louis. His family said Saturday that the boy told them he saw signs and flyers posted for him.

Roland Corvington, the special agent in charge of the FBI's St. Louis office, said that when police entered Devlin's apartment, Ben looked up and asked, "Are you going to take me home?"

Shawn identified himself to police when asked, Corvington said. His stepfather, Craig Akers, said the family would talk with him about the abduction "when Shawn's ready to discuss it." (Watch boy's parents hail a 'miracle' Video)

Devlin has not made a public statement.



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