Lawyers: Put Gag Order on Reporter Who Interviewed Missouri Kidnapping Suspect

Lawyers for kidnapping suspect Michael Devlin are asking a judge to impose a gag order on a freelance reporter and a New York newspaper for two jailhouse interviews conducted over the weekend, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday.

Michael Kielty, one of Devlin's attorneys, said Susannah Cahalan, a Washington University student, liked to the Franklin County Jail in order to get the interview for the New York Post, and demanded she turn over her notes, the Post-Dispatch reported.

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Meanwhile, Devlin, who has already pleaded not guilty in the kidnapping of Ben Ownby, will enter the same plea in connection with Shawn Horbeck's abduction, Kielty said Monday.

Kielty said he expects Devlin to be arraigned Friday on charges of kidnapping and armed criminal action in the Hornbeck case. However, a clerk at Washington County Associate Circuit Court said a date for the hearing has not been set.

Shawn was 11 when Devlin allegedly kidnapped him on Oct. 6, 2002. Devlin also faces charges in neighboring Franklin County for the Jan. 8 kidnapping of 13-year-old Ben. He pleaded not guilty in that case on Thursday.

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Ben and Shawn, now 15, were both found Jan. 12 in Devlin's apartment in the St. Louis suburb Kirkwood, about an hour's drive from the rural settings where both abductions occurred four years apart.

Kielty said he has still not seen any evidence in either case, and would not discuss details of the defense for the 41-year-old pizzeria manager and part-time funeral home worker.

Devlin remained jailed in Franklin County on $1 million bond, but Kielty was seeking to get him moved to St. Louis County over concerns about security at the Franklin County jail. Kielty said those concerns were raised after the freelance reporter obtained the interview that appeared in Sunday's New York Post.

Devlin was interviewed both Friday and Saturday by Susannah Cahalan. Sheriff Gary Toelke said Cahalan signed in as a friend of Devlin's. The sheriff said Devlin saw her before the first interview, did not recognize her, but still agreed to meet with her both days.

Kielty said the reporter lied to Devlin, saying she was a university student who was interested in the case, rather than a reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper.

"Of course there was a breach of security," Kielty said Monday. "Anytime anybody enters a detention facility under false pretenses, it's a breach of security. She lied to the sheriff's department, and she lied to my client."

Cahalan attends Washington University in St. Louis and used to work for the school paper. A university spokesman said she is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences from Summit, N.J. She did not have a current phone listing, and did not respond to e-mail requests for an interview.

Toelke said Monday that an inmate can accept or decline media requests, and in this case, Devlin accepted.

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"Unless a weapon can be passed through concrete and two inches of bulletproof glass, there is no contact with the inmate," Toelke said in a statement.

"It appears to me that the attorneys either neglected to inform their client or could not control their client and are blaming it on us."

Kielty said he doesn't want Devlin doing media interviews that could damage his case. He suggested Devlin may have agreed to speak with Cahalan simply because he was lonely after spending more than a week by himself most of the time.

"You're talking about a situation where a gentleman's been locked in solitary confinement," Kielty said. "You often times get clients who want to do things that are not in their best interest.

In the Post article, Devlin said his parents had not visited with him since his arrest.

"I don't know how I'm going to explain myself to my parents," Devlin said in his only public comments. "It's much easier talking to a stranger about these things than your own parents."

Devlin refused to talk about allegations against him. He is accused of taking Ben just after the boy got off a school bus in Beaufort, Mo., about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis. A schoolmate's tip about a white pickup led authorities to Devlin's apartment, where they found Ben and Shawn, who was kidnapped while riding his bike in Richwoods, Mo.

"I guess I was relatively happy" during those four years, Devlin said.

Devlin said he "was never really interested in" romantic relationships but wouldn't say whether he was attracted to women.

"I can't talk about that because it has to do with the case," he said.

The Post said Devlin appeared downcast and red-eyed during the first interview Friday, but was smiling and more upbeat during an interview Saturday.

Around 2002, he started losing contact with close friends, most of whom he knew from Imo's, the pizza parlor he managed in Kirkwood.

"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)."

A St. Louis-based homebuilder scheduled a news conference Tuesday to announce plans to build a new four-bedroom home in Richwoods for Shawn and his parents, a building that will house the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation. Shawn's parents, Craig and Pam Akers, established the foundation after his disappearance to aid in the search for Shawn and other missing children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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