ST. LOUIS – The New York Post, which recently published jailhouse interviews with the man accused of kidnapping two Missouri boys, said Tuesday its correspondent properly identified herself as an employee of the newspaper before doing the interviews.
Lawyers for Michael Devlin, 41, have said the reporter misled Devlin, identifying herself as reporter with a university newspaper instead of a stringer for a major metropolitan publication.
"Susannah Cahalan was working as a freelancer for the New York Post and she identified herself as such to the prisoner Michael Devlin," the Post said in an e-mailed statement. "It was made clear to the prisoner that the story resulting from his interview would be published in the New York Post. We stand by Susannah and the story."
Devlin was interviewed both Friday and Saturday by Cahalan in the Franklin County jail, where he is being held on $1 million bond.
Devlin is accused in two counties of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. The boys were found in Devlin's suburban St. Louis apartment on Jan. 12, four days after Ben went missing and more than four years after Shawn disappeared.
Franklin County 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.
A spokeswoman for the Post, Suzi Halpin, said the newspaper had no comment about how Cahalan identified herself to jail officials.
Devlin's lawyers, Michael Kielty and Ethan Corlija, are seeking a gag order to keep the New York Post and others from reporting information from the interviews, though the information already has been widely reported.
Devlin told Cahalan that his parents had not visited him in jail, and generally described the years when he allegedly was keeping Hornbeck against his will as good ones.
"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 it "rejects any attempt to gag reporting of this important story."
Devlin's lawyers also are seeking to get him moved to a different jail because of concerns about security at the Franklin County jail. Toelke has said the jail is secure and that the woman and the inmate were separated by concrete and 2 inches of bulletproof glass.
Cahalan attends Washington University in St. Louis and formerly worked for the school paper. A university spokesman said she is a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences from Summit, N.J. She has not responded to attempts to reach her by phone or e-mail.