Two pedestrians see a toddler hanging from a fire escape. They run across the street and arrive just in time to catch the falling toddler.
Boy goes missing for four days. On a whim, police see a truck that meets the description of boys alleged abductor and investigates. Turns out the truck indeed belongs to boys abductor. Missing 11yr old is saved along with another boy who had been missing for four and a half years.
This last story is what played out last week in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. Not a day has gone by that it hasn’t been in the news. The story will also be featured today on the Oprah Winfrey show.
Since this is a pretty amzing story I added it here in it’s entirety :
In Mo., Shawn comes home a different boy
By SHARON COHEN, AP National Writer
More than four years ago when Shawn Hornbeck was snatched near his home, he was known as a spunky little boy who liked to ride his bike, play basketball, draw cartoons and spend time with his stepfather.
Last week when he surfaced in a stunning conclusion to a kidnapping case, Shawn was a 15-year-old who had grown more than a foot, had a pierced lip and shy smile. But the change went beyond his appearance.
As details trickled out, it appeared Shawn had settled into a domestic life with Michael Devlin, the man who allegedly abducted him and then on Jan. 8, snatched a 13-year-old boy and brought him to his suburban St. Louis apartment. Both boys were rescued last week by police after acting on a tip.
The early picture that emerged of Shawn’s life in suburban Kirkwood was a teenager enjoying regular activities: skateboarding and bike riding with a friend. A neighbor saw Devlin teaching him to drive his pickup. Others in town assumed they were father and son. The boy also told police that Devlin was his last name.
What happened during this 51 months when he apparently lived with Devlin remains a mystery.
And while some may wonder why Shawn didn’t escape over the years, experts say no one should rush to judgment about a boy stolen from his loved ones at age 11.
“Most 11-year-olds taken from their support systems are in a state of shock,” said Dr. Sharon Cooper, a pediatrician on the faculty of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. “Their worry is who is going to provide their basic needs.”
Shawn, she said, was “was totally displaced from his family and home. This offender had established a new life for that child and he accommodated that.” The boy, she added, grew to accept Kirkwood as “his community.”
Cooper, a consultant for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, also said it’s much easier to dupe a younger kid than a teen.
“When you take a pretty young child away from the city they live in, after a while the child becomes compliant and complacent in the environment they’re in,” she said.
At a news conference Wednesday, authorities charged Devlin with Shawn’s kidnapping and said the 41-year-old pizza parlor worker had used a gun to threaten the boy when he was abducted in 2002.
John Rupp, prosecutor in Washington County, dismissed any suggestion that Shawn had run away. “Shawn was abducted against his will,” he said. “Period. End of story.”
Washington County Sheriff William Schroeder also said it’s hard for anyone to fathom Shawn’s ordeal. “This is something so bizarre that the normal individual cannot grasp what this then-11-year-old boy went through.”
Shawn accompanied his parents to Chicago for the Wednesday taping of an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. He sat in the front row, gripping his sisters’ hands, but he didn’t answer questions.
In an interview recorded earlier, Shawn said he was frightened during those four years and prayed his family would find him.
Shawn made his first public appearance last Saturday at a news conference in his hometown of Richwoods, a rural community about 60 miles from St. Louis. Teachers, friends and well-wishers crowded into his old school — a sign outside read: “Thank God! Welcome Home Shawn” — and applauded him as he entered the gymnasium.
Shawn flashed a shy smile, whispered in his mother’s ear, laughed softly and clutched her hand under the table. When his tearful stepfather, Craig Akers, reported that Shawn and one of his sisters had spent much time the previous night reminiscing about their childhood, Shawn confided to his mother: “We remember everything.”
Some at the school remember Shawn, as well.
His fifth grade teacher, Donna Miley, recalls Shawn as being spunky. “Shawn always stood up for himself,” she said. “I don’t know how else to explain it. He wasn’t meek.”
She said Shawn was a typical kid who got in trouble occasionally — nothing serious — such as walking on top of the library tables. “They were little stinkers,” she says. “Just good kids.”
Miley said Shawn played basketball, drew cartoons, favoring pictures of cars and bikes, and “liked anything with wheels.” He was riding his 21-inch lime green mountain bike a half-mile from home when he was abducted.
Kim Evans, a family friend who helped run a foundation formed to search for Shawn, recalls Shawn as a boy who liked to do whatever his stepfather did — whether it was drinking diet soda or fixing dirt bikes.
In the days since Devlin was arrested, some have been baffled because Shawn seemed to move about freely in Kirkwood. He apparently had use of a cell phone and the Internet. A series of Web postings under the name Shawn Devlin have appeared with photos and personal details.
But Cooper said it would be wrong to think Shawn had complete control over his life.
“The issue of freedom is a relative one,” she said. “He had a bicycle. How far was he going to go?”
Associated Press writers Chris Leonard in St. Louis and Betsy Taylor in Richwoods contributed to this report.