There are no strong leads at this time to link Michael Devlin to six abduction cases in the region that are being investigated by a multi-jurisdictional task force, authorities said.
Cpl. Julie Scerine, with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said after Devlin's arrest, inquiries have grown from older "cold cases" in Missouri and Illinois. Scerine said Wednesday that the patrol is the "mouthpiece" for a task force, acting as a liaison between investigators and the media.
"We (the task force) are trying to do anything we can to connect the dots between the leads that come in and missing individuals, Devlin or any associates," said Scerine.
Devlin, a 41-year-old pizzeria manager, faces kidnapping charges in the abductions of Ben Ownby, 13, from near his Beaufort home, and Shawn Hornbeck, 15, who was abducted over four years ago while riding his bicycle on a rural road near his Richwoods home in Washington County. The boys were returned to their parents Jan. 12 after they were found in Devlin's Kirkwood apartment.
Devlin has pleaded not guilty to first-degree kidnapping charges in Franklin County and is being held on $1 million cash-only bond at the Franklin County jail.
The task force, based out of the old Washington Police Station, was formed to investigate similarities between the Ownby and Hornbeck abductions and the 1991 abduction of Charles Arlin Henderson from Moscow Mills in Lincoln County. Henderson was 11 years old when he went missing. He also was riding his bicycle on a rural road.
Agencies involved in the task force include the Franklin County Sheriff's Department, FBI, Missouri Highway Patrol, Kirkwood Police and sheriff's offices in Washington County, St. Charles, St. Louis and Lincoln counties.
Other possible abduction cases the task force is investigating are:
Bianca Piper who has been missing since March 10, 2005. She was last seen walking on a gravel road near her Foley, Mo., home when she was 14 years old;
Scott Kleeschulte who disappeared from St. Charles in 1988 when he was 9 years old; and
Angie Housman who disappeared in 1993 after a school bus dropped her off near her St. Ann home. Deer hunters found the 9-year-old's body in the Busch Memorial Conservation area.
The task force also is following leads in two out-of-state cases including the 2003 death of Dalton Mesarchik who was last seen in the front yard of his Streator, Ill., home on March 26, 2003. His body was found the next day by a fisherman in the Vermilion River; and Jacob Wetterling who went missing from St. Joseph, Minn., Oct. 22 1989.
Wednesday, Scerine said the patrol will act as the media coordinator for the task force because they already have mechanisms in place to field media inquiries.
"We have been getting a lot of inquiries and so have other agencies in the task force for information. We did this to give them a name and number so they don't contact other agencies," Scerine told The Missourian. "There are several agencies involved and for some reason or another can't provide someone (to act as a media liaison) and we already have a department that handles public relations."
Scerine noted that no details of the ongoing investigation will be discussed and there is no time frame for the task force to conclude the investigation.
Michael Kielty and Ethan Corlija, attorneys representing Devlin, filed several motions in Division 7 of the Franklin County Circuit Court that will be heard Tuesday, Feb. 6, including a transfer from the Franklin County jail to St. Louis County and the request for a "gag order" of a New York Post reporter's notes.
The attorneys filed the motion to suppress "published or unpublished" information gathered by Susannah Cahalan with the New York Post who conducted two interviews with Devlin at the jail.
Cahalan posed as a friend of Devlin's to enter the jail and Devlin agreed to meet with her. Attorney's representing the New York Post filed a motion opposing the gag order stating Devlin voluntarily spoke with Cahalan.
Devlin's attorneys also filed a motion "for enforcement of Franklin County jail visitation policy." The motion requests that only six people be given visitation rights other than legal counsel. The six people are on a "visitation list" was supplied to the jail by Devlin's attorneys.
Devlin's attorneys also filed motions requesting Devlin appear in "plain clothes and free of visible restraints" during court proceedings and a motion to "preserve all physical, electronic, verbal and written evidence," as well as a motion requesting "transcription of grand jury testimony."
An attorney representing the New York Post filed a motion to allow Slade R. Metcalf, an attorney with the Hogan and Hartson LLP firm in New York City, to represent the newspaper in Missouri.