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Former pizzeria manager kidnaps and tortures two boys

A former pizzeria manager pleaded guilty to kidnapping of two teen boys and holding them captive in his Missouri apartment.

The statements came during a day of guilty pleas in two separate counties that prosecutors say will put Michael Devlin behind bars for life for the abduction and sexual abuse of two boys, Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby, held captive in his apartment.

Prosecutors said Devlin snatched Hornbeck at gunpoint four years ago when the boy, then 11, was riding his bike in the remote town of Richwoods. Devlin said he attempted to pull the boy from his truck and began to strangle him, but he resisted.

"I attempted to kill (Shawn) and he talked me out of it," Devlin said in court.

Devlin stopped the choking, but then sexually assaulted the boy. Prosecutors say it was at that point that Shawn told Devlin he would do whatever was asked of him in order to stay alive.

"This boy made this contract, this deal with the devil, only to survive," Washington County prosecutor John Rupp said.

Devlin, 41, pleaded guilty in Washington County to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and attempting to murder Hornbeck, who he held for four years. He was sentenced to three life terms plus 60 years in prison.

Later the same day, Devlin also pleaded guilty to 71 counts in St. Louis County Circuit Court - two counts of kidnapping and 69 counts of forcible sodomy of Hornbeck and Ownby.

The pleas came a day after Devlin pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison in Franklin County for kidnapping Ownby, who was held for four days before being found by police at the man's apartment.

Hornbeck's parents, Craig and Pam Akers, declined comment after the hearing.

Police searching for Ownby, who was abducted at gunpoint after stepping off his school bus on Jan. 8 near him home, were shocked to also discover Hornbeck at Devlin's home. Hornbeck was, by then, 15 years old.

Prosecutors said the combined pleas mean he will not be eligible for parole until he is more than 100 years old.

"You heard it from his own mouth. You've heard what kind of a monster he is," Rupp said after the hearing.

Devlin's attorneys have said he accepted a plea deal after reviewing the massive body of evidence collected by state and federal authorities. The boys' families said they were relieved because the pleas will spare the teens from testifying and reliving the ordeal.

While it is The Associated Press' policy not to identify suspected victims of sexual abuse in most cases, the story of the two teens has been widely publicized and their names are well known.

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