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People Top 5
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PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- October 06, 2008
- Vol. 70
- No. 14
Shawn Hornbeck: 'It Was Terrifying'
He Was Held Captive by a Kidnapper for Years. Now, 20 Months After His Rescue, He Opens Up About His Ordeal
The interview sheds new light on Hornbeck's kidnapping on Oct. 6, 2002, and his more than four years as a captive in the home of pizza parlor worker Michael Devlin, 42. Hornbeck spent most of his first month bound to Devlin's futon; he was constantly sexually abused. "There wasn't a day when I didn't think he was just gonna kill me," says Hornbeck. "I'm not gonna lie—there were times when it seemed like I was better off dead."
Then, only a month after the abduction, Devlin drove Hornbeck into the woods and began strangling him. Hornbeck begged for his life and agreed never to do anything that threatened Devlin's hold over him. And he never did, even after Devlin allowed him to go on sleepovers with a friend. Hornbeck's parents asked Roberts not to question him about why he never tried to escape. But Hornbeck did say, "People see it in their power to judge me. They don't know what I went through. They weren't there."
Hornbeck was rescued Jan. 12, 2007, four days after Devlin kidnapped another boy, Ben Ownby, 13. Now a junior in high school and already caught up with classmates, Hornbeck is relieved Devlin was given 74 life sentences but reluctant to share the worst aspects of his abuse with his parents or anyone. His story, he says, has "a lot of gory, nasty details that a lot of people really can't handle."
Hornbeck's recovery, everyone knows, is going to take some time. But by most accounts, including his own, he's off to a good start. "I've lived two lives," he says. "And I've got what I wanted most in life, which was to be back with my family."
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