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Lawyers will try to move Devlin after reporter gains access

Michael Devlin appeared in Franklin County court last week via video link to plead 'not guilty' to charges he kidnapped Ben Ownby.
Michael Devlin appeared in Franklin County court last week via video link to plead 'not guilty' to charges he kidnapped Ben Ownby.


Union, MO – There's an effort to move accused kidnapper Michael Devlin out of the Franklin County jail after a reporter got into the building this weekend for an interview.

Devlin's lawyers had made arrangements for only themselves and family to be allowed. Now they say they'll try to move Devlin to St. Charles or St. Louis County.

Devlin is accused of kidnapping both 13-year old Ben Ownby and 15-year old Shawn Hornbeck.

In the interview, Devlin told the New York Post that life was good for him during that period when Shawn was missing.

But he also said his own parents, who live nearby, have not visited him since his arrest earlier this month. "I don't know how I'm going to explain myself to my parents," Devlin told the Post in two 15-minute interviews at the Franklin County jail in Union, Mo. The interviews were his first public comments since his arrest, aside from a brief court appearance.

"It's much easier talking to a stranger about these things than your own parents."

Devlin, 41, pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of kidnapping Ben Ownby. He also is charged with kidnapping Shawn but has not entered a plea in that case. "I will not discuss anything related to the case," he told the Post.

Devlin said he "was never really interested in" romantic relationships but wouldn't say whether he was attracted to women. "I can't talk about that because it has to do with the case," he said.

The Post said Devlin appeared downcast and red-eyed during the first interview Friday, but was smiling and more upbeat during an interview Saturday.

"I feel nothing," he said in the first interview. "I hide my emotions from other people. I hide the way I feel."

Around 2002, he started losing contact with close friends, most of whom he knew from Imo's, the pizza parlor he managed in Kirkwood. "I guess you could say I was lonely. All my friends starting getting married and having kids," he said.

"Hanging out with friends just becomes a lower priority (for them)."

In jail, Devlin is separated from other inmates because his lawyers and guards believe other prisoners could attack him.

"I'm not worried. It's inevitable. I will eventually have to deal with it," he said, "I haven't exactly done a great job of representing myself so far."

Devlin's attorneys, Michael Kielty and Ethan Corlija, criticized jail security Sunday and said they had previously advised their client against talking to the media.

They said they had a verbal agreement with jail officials that only family and Devlin's attorneys would see him. The lawyers claimed the reporter who got in to see Devlin presented herself as a "family friend" to jail officials, not as a reporter.

Kielty also said the woman told Devlin she was writing for a university publication.

The Post did not respond to the allegations that the reporter, Susannah Cahalan, told jail officials she was a friend. After speaking with Post editor Col Allan, spokesman Howard Rubenstein said, "The response of the New York Post is that they stand by their published report."

Rubenstein said later, "They're not going to make any further comments."

Kielty and Corlija said they planned to ask a judge Monday to move Devlin to a "more secure" facility. "I don't care if she's a reporter for the New York Post, or the milkman, the fact that she can get in is a big deal," Corlija said.

Franklin County officials plan to investigate how Cahalan got access to Devlin; county officials declined to comment to The Associated Press on Sunday. They have previously said they believe appropriate security measures were taken.

The Post-Dispatch reported that Cahalan attends Washington University in St. Louis and used to work for the school paper. E-mail and phone messages left by the AP for a Susannah Cahalan listed as Washington University student were not immediately returned Sunday evening.