Can you imagine seeing your missing child after 4 years? - U2 Feedback

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Old 01-13-2007, 05:41 PM   #1
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Can you imagine seeing your missing child after 4 years?

This is quite an amazing story. Amid all the news about wars, murders and rapes there seems to be plenty of feel-good stories in the New Year, starting with the NYC subway heroes and now this.

I cannot imagine the roller coaster of emotions these families must have gone through.

Stories such as this restore my faith in life and humanity. It shows me that one must never give up hope, no matter what.


Ecstatic parents of boys found in Missouri hail 'miracle'

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (CNN) -- Two very relieved and beaming families hugged their sons at news conferences Saturday, the day after the two missing boys were found -- one after four days, the other after four years.

Police had been searching for Ben Ownby, 13, who disappeared Monday, when they found him with another teenager in a man's apartment in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. That boy told the officers that he was Shawn Hornbeck, who was last seen riding his bike in 2002, when he was 11.

The apartment owner, Michael J. Devlin, 41, was arrested Friday and charged with one count of first-degree kidnapping, according to Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks.

He is being held on $1 million bail and may also face federal charges.

The rescued boys' families told their stories at separate news conferences, each filled with emotion and overwhelming relief.

Shawn's mother, Pam Akers, and his stepfather, Craig Akers, said they had never given up hope.

"We've got a lot of catching up to do," said a tearful Pam Akers. "He's grown up on me, that's for sure."

"Shawn is a miracle here," she said.

"This is one of those rare, rare things. To have one missing child found is just extraordinary," Craig Akers told reporters. "To have two found at the same time is one of those things -- you don't even read about things like that."

Shawn sat at a table close to his mother, exchanging hugs with her and smiling as he watched his stepfather talk excitedly to reporters. At one point, he put his forehead on the table in mock embarassment as Craig Akers relayed, to much laughter, that Shawn's first request was a hamburger from McDonald's.

At his news conference, Ben appeared at ease and happy as he stood with his sister and his parents, Don and Doris Ownby.

Doris Ownby said she was "just, just ecstatic" to have Ben back. "I didn't say anything, I just grabbed him and held him."

She said the first thing Ben wanted to do was to play a computer game, and the first thing she did that morning was check to see if Ben was still there.

Family wants to spread hope

The Akers, who have spent the past four years helping in other missing children cases, said they wanted to give hope to those parents. Craig Akers said he remembered the day he heard Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart was found -- on March 12, 2003, nearly a year after being kidnapped.

"I remember how much that raised our hopes, how much fuel that gave us to keep going," he said.

The conference was held in a room decorated with balloons and handmade posters that read "Miracles Do Happen" and "We All Missed You, Shawn."

"I want to give that hope to the families, to the family that their kids can come home," Pam Akers said. "It may be years later, may be days later, may be weeks later, but they can come home safe and just always keep that faith and hope."

The boys were found in Kirkwood, Missouri, about an hour away from the Akers' home in Richwoods.

The break came after reports of a sighting of a rusty white Nissan pickup truck that matched the description of one sought in the disappearance of Ben, last seen getting off his school bus in Franklin County, near St. Louis.

Two police officers in suburban Kirkwood went to the apartment complex to serve an unrelated warrant and spotted the pickup, Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke told reporters Friday.

"That resulted in the recovery," Toelke said.

It is not clear what happened to the boys while they were with Devlin, but Craig Akers said Shawn did not go to school during the four years he's been missing.

"All the questions will come later," said Pam Akers. "We're just trying to absorb that he's home."

'That's my son'

Craig Akers described driving home from work and getting the call that Shawn might have been found. "It took a minute to find a suitable place to pull over," he said.

"The words -- 'We think we found Shawn, we're 95 percent sure that we found Shawn and that he's alive' -- were the sweetest words I ever heard in my life," he said.

Driving to see their son was "the longest drive we ever had to do," he said.

When the parents and Shawn saw each other, there were no words, he said.

"Just a split second of shock," Akers recounted. "The last time we saw him, he was yea tall and 11 years old. It kind of throws you for a second. But ... once we saw the face, we said, "Oh, my God, that's my son...

"That was pretty much where we were the first five minutes. Not a lot of words spoken, except a lot of 'I love you's,' kisses, and 'We're so glad that you're home.' "

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Old 01-13-2007, 06:28 PM   #2
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I heard about that! I was sooo happy. That's an amazing story.

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Old 01-13-2007, 06:37 PM   #3
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How heartbreaking and brilliant at the same time. He's grown an awful lot, and in some emotional and hormonal years of his life. I do hope this poor Shawn gets a lot of help with this.
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Old 01-13-2007, 06:45 PM   #4
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I heard about this. What a story! That's a long time to be gone.
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Old 01-13-2007, 06:49 PM   #5
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Hm, last year Natascha Kampusch in Austria, who was kept for 8 years, and now this boy.
Would be nice to hear about some more cases.

Some 13 years ago in my region a girl got kidnapped, and never seen since. My mother went to school with her father, and my grandfather found the bike on the way to one of his fields.

Some time you start asking yourself whether it would be better if she is still alive considering what's going on in some stupid heads. Like the case Dutroux in Belgium showed. When te children there were discovered there was this weird feeling of hope, and fear at the same time.

Even today some people are calling the police telling they have seen her.
In most cases it's just bullshit.

Great for these boys, though. Finally them and their parents are together again.
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Old 01-13-2007, 07:07 PM   #6
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This happened pretty close to where I used to live. The parents set up a website for a missing kids foundation they started because of this whole ordeal. Well there was a messageboard on this website and the kidnapper posted a message asking how long they were going to keep looking for their kid.

Pretty creepy. Hopefully he'll be able to overcome the abuse he took during the 4 years.
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Old 01-13-2007, 07:08 PM   #7
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I'm so glad this had a happy ending. Watching the stepfather get teary-eyed makes me feel the same a little.
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Old 01-13-2007, 07:15 PM   #8
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That's just truly wonderful news to hear. The family have a lot to catch up with, but they'll finally a family again. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-13-2007, 07:33 PM   #9
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WOW, that´s fantastic! is great news for that family, I remember a girl that was kidnapped and she applied some tricks she saw in CSI, and the police captured the man that kidnapped her
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Old 01-13-2007, 07:41 PM   #10
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Great news indeed, but it's really strange that this child was found only an hour away from his home after four years.
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:18 PM   #11
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In the Austrian case it was similar.

In many cases criminals, doesn't matter what they are commiting, don't go too far from their hometowns or the places they live since they know this area the best.

Afterwards it must be really weird to know how close the son or daughter was, really.
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:43 PM   #12
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I hadn't heard about! I have goosebumps. It's so sad that the one family lost 4 years of their sons life, but they got him back against all odds! That is amazing.
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Old 01-14-2007, 08:48 AM   #13
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Could you imagine not KNOWING where your child is for 4 years?
I couldn't deal without knowing, and knowing that wherever they are they would need me. It would be pure torture.

To me it is uncomprehensible. I would be like the walking dead.

I am so very happy for the families who where literally blessed with getting their sons back home.
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Old 01-14-2007, 09:43 AM   #14
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I just wanna know what he was doing locked up in there for four years.
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Old 01-14-2007, 10:08 PM   #15
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Originally posted by AussieU2fanman
I just wanna know what he was doing locked up in there for four years.
No doubt being emotionally and mentally tortured, if not more, as seperation from your parents is torture on its own. Mum was saying he had a fairly blank look on his face when he finally saw his parents again. This kid and this family have so much more to go through. It's heartbreaking. He'll never get over what he went through, and I truly doubt they will ever be a comfortable family again. But that of course depends on the help they get now and how resilient the boy is, plus what he went through. God, the list goes on.

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