ST. LOUIS – A former pizzeria manager accused of kidnapping two Missouri boys will plead guilty next week to kidnapping, attempted murder and sexual assault, a prosecutor said Friday.
Washington County prosecutor John Rupp said Michael Devlin will plead guilty to all charges there in the 2002 kidnapping of Shawn Hornbeck and will be sentenced Tuesday.
Devlin was arrested in January after police found Shawn and Ben Ownby at Devlin's apartment in the St. Louis County town of Kirkwood.
Loyd Bailie, Ben's uncle, told The Associated Press on Friday that the family had been briefed by prosecutors that Devlin will plead guilty next week in all four jurisdictions where he is charged. Rupp said he could not comment on the other jurisdictions, and other prosecutors involved either would not comment or could not be reached.
"This is a great day," Bailie said. "Just knowing that Ben is not going to have to relive all this through the court system -- this is cloud nine."
Shawn was 11 when he went missing while riding his bike near his Washington County home in 2002. Ben, 13, had been missing four days after being abducted after getting off a school bus in Franklin County. A tip from a classmate describing a white pickup truck speeding from the scene led police to Devlin.
Devlin has pleaded not guilty to dozens of charges, including kidnapping, attempted murder and forcible sodomy.
St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCullough made a surprise announcement Friday that there will be a series of disposition hearings in the case's four jurisdictions on Monday and Tuesday.
McCullough did not specify the purpose for the hearings, and his office did not return several phone calls seeking comment. U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway also declined to comment. Franklin County prosecutor Robert Parks did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Ethan Corlija, Devlin's attorney, said, "I can tell you, disposition usually means, among lawyers, that things will be concluded in some manner." He declined to elaborate.
Devlin, 41, was arrested Jan. 12. He is jailed in Franklin County.
Shawn and Ben were returned to their parents after they were freed. Shawn has been home-schooled since his return to the Washington County community of Richwoods. He turned 16 this summer. Ben returned to school soon after he was freed.
It is The Associated Press' policy not to identify most victims of sexual abuse, but the boys' stories have been widely publicized, and their names are now well-known.