UNION, Mo. – The hulking pizza manager accused of snatching two boys in Missouri is so ashamed of his arrest, he can't face his own mom and dad.
"It's much easier talking to a stranger about these things than your own parents."
Devlin agreed to two 15-minute interviews in a holding area at the Franklin County jail here, during which he talked about his lack of interest in sex, his passion for poker and video games, the amputation of his toes and his solitary confinement in a 10-by-7 foot cell.
But he refused to talk about the criminal charges he's facing, squinting his eyes and fidgeting in his chair when asked about the four years he allegedly held Shawn captive at his apartment in Kirkwood, Mo., and his alleged snatching of Ownby on Jan. 8.
"I will not discuss anything related to the case," he said.
Devlin, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 300 pounds, came out in an orange prison jumpsuit for both interviews.
He said he has had no visitors other than his lawyers despite having a large family - five siblings and his parents, who adopted him and three of his brothers — nearby.
Life, he said, had been good for him over the last four years, during which he allegedly forced Hornbeck to live with him by threatening to kill the teen and his family if he fled.
"I guess I was relatively happy," he said.
During the first sit-down on Friday, Devlin appeared red-faced and bleary-eyed and seemed downcast.
"I feel nothing," he said. "I hide my emotions from other people. I hide the way I feel."
He declined to answer if he's ever had a girlfriend but said he doesn't care about romantic relationships. "I was never really interested in that," he said. Asked if he was attracted to women, Devlin said, "I can't talk about that because it has to do with the case."
Devlin, 41, said his life took a dramatic turn in 2002, when he was diagnosed with diabetes, which led to amputations of the big toe and another toe on his right foot in 2003, shortly after Hornbeck went missing.
The loss of his toes made it difficult for him to maintain his balance and he had to give up his passion for hunting and fishing, Devlin said.
"I'm an outdoorsman, but not anymore," he said.
At the same time, he began to lose contact with his close circle of friends - most of them current or former employees of Imo's, the pizza parlor he managed in Kirkwood and where he'd worked since he was 16.
They used to get together at his old apartment to play video games or Texas hold 'em, he said. Sometimes, they would head out to Missouri's riverboat casinos and play poker or craps together.
"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]."
When he spoke with The Post Saturday, Devlin's demeanor changed. He greeted a reporter with a big smile. His eyes were no longer bloodshot. He seemed upbeat.
He has a slightly lazy eye but appeared focused and alert. He was talkative.
Devlin complained about being bored and confined by himself, which prevented him from calling his parents, he said, which he's mustering the courage to do. He hopes to phone them in the next few days.
He's not been able to sleep because the noise from a jailhouse booking room keeps him awake all night, he said.
"They keep me away from everyone because they think I'm dangerous," Devlin said.
He said his lawyers and the guards believe his fellow prisoners will likely attack him if they put him in the general prison population.
"They think I'll be beat up," he said.
Devlin seemed resigned to the possibility that he could be assaulted.
"I'm not worried. It's inevitable. I will eventually have to deal with it." He added, "I haven't exactly done a great job of representing myself so far."
At first, guards believed he was a threat to himself and put him on suicide watch, which he called "bizarre."
"They thought I was going to kill myself because of the nature of the crime. They put me in a room for 48 hours with nothing in it and watched to see if I would try to commit suicide."
Devlin, who grew up in Webster Groves, Mo., in a middle-class family, said, "I had a normal childhood — it was happy as far back as I can remember."
He recalled having taken family vacations, including a visit to Yellowstone National Park — his favorite place — and a road trip with his parents to New York City when Devlin was a small boy.
"I remember all of us were packed into the car," he said, unable to remember anything else from the trip.
Devlin graduated from Webster Groves High School, "but I wasn't much of a student," he said.
"I hung around with friends and didn't do much work."
After graduation, he worked at a tool factory, which he called the "worst job in the world."
His friends at Imo's, all older than he was, became his "second family."
He eventually enrolled at Saint Louis University, a prestigious Jesuit school, but dropped out after one semester.
"They expected me to do more than just go to class, like paper writing. I was never really good at that," he said.
And he was prone to put things off, he admitted.
"My biggest problem is that I'm a procrastinator."
Video games became a pastime. He said his favorite was "Final Fantasy," an involved role-playing game developed in Japan in the 1980s.
If he weren't in jail, he said, "I'd be in front of my computer screen playing 'Final Fantasy XI,' " he said.
"I like 'Final Fantasy' because it has a network that can connect to people all over the world, from Europe to Japan."
Police say Devlin and Shawn were avid video-game players and may have spent hours playing games together.
He said he loved the "Lord of the Rings" movies but hasn't been allowed to watch TV or movies while in jail.
Instead, he spends his time reading.
He picked up the novel "The Citadel," he said, but the first five pages were torn out and he couldn't follow the story. He didn't like the romance novels his jailers offered him.
Now he's reading "Death Wish," the novel on which the Charles Bronson movie series of the same name was based.
Devlin's friends and co-workers corroborated much of his story. Mike Prosperi, who owns Imo's pizza and has been Devlin's boss for more than 20 years, said: "I don't know if he ever had a girlfriend. If he did, he never talked about it."
He said Devlin was on good terms with his parents, James and Joyce Devlin.
"He helped his folks rake the leaves, wallpaper their house, helped with chores around the house."
Rob Hart, a friend who used to work at Imo's, said he and his wife, Stephanie, would sometimes join Devlin and others for poker games at Imo's.
"He was into video games, poker and politics," he said.
Hart said he was shocked his friend has been charged with the kidnappings.
"It's too hard to believe."