This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," February 1, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Time now for "Big Crime": shocking new details in the Missouri kidnapping story.
The Associated Press is reporting that Shawn Hornbeck, the teenager who went missing for four years, actually helped his kidnapper hide Ben Ownby. Ownby was found after four days. With me on the phone now live from St. Louis is Associated Press reporter Christopher Leonard who broke this story.
Christopher, welcome. So in this story you broke today, what is being — what is the information you got? How did Shawn help hide Ben Ownby?
CHRISTOPHER LEONARD, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, many of the details haven't emerged at this point. There was one anecdote, as you mentioned, Ben Ownby was held captive from Monday through Friday. And Thursday night, authorities actually came to Devlin's apartment to question him following up a tip, and sources say that when authorities arrived, both Shawn and Michael asked Ben Ownby to hide in a bedroom behind a door. Shawn answered the door, spoke with authorities, then Devlin spoke with authorities and refused to let them in. And authorities didn't actually raid that apartment and find the two boys until the next day, Friday afternoon.
GIBSON: Christopher, let me put something on the screen out of your story because it's very intriguing. You write that the — that Hornbeck's cooperation with Michael Devlin, quote, is the result of what Shawn experienced during the first 30 days of his own captivity which would have been four years ago. What was that in the first 30 days?
LEONARD: Yeah, I think that's a very important thing that has emerged. And details are sparse right now. What I can tell you is that immediately after Shawn was kidnapped as an 11-year-old, he was put into intense isolation and underwent intense abuse for 30 days, and a source whom I was speaking with said that that period of time and what he underwent essentially broke the child's mind. You know, kind of stripped him of his identity as happens in abuse cases like this. And the identity was slowly built up over the years again by this person Michael Devlin who then allegedly — I'm sorry, it's been a long day. Allegedly over time by this person Michael Devlin who gave the child increasing freedoms or treats or things like that.
GIBSON: Christopher, late today, we reached the attorney for Devlin. I'll put this quote on the screen. He, of course, condemns this story, as you might expect. He says, "It's reprehensible that stories about this case are being told by the government through anonymous leaks." Is there — in a way, he is challenging the authenticity of your information. How good are your sources?
LEONARD: Let me say this. This is something I have been working on for weeks. We have handled this information because it's so sensitive. Believe me, I have been involved with this from the morning Ben Ownby was kidnapped. We are very aware we're dealing with minors, with teenage boys who according to authorities were abducted and all that, and we did not do this lightly. The information would not be out there today unless we were completely assured it was based on the absolute most reliable sources who have access to this information. It's been vetted, and we put it out today.
GIBSON: Christopher Leonard with the "Associated Press" broke the story today. Christopher, good reporting, and thank you for coming on, we appreciate it.
LEONARD: Thank you, I appreciate it.
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