Lawyers for Kidnap Suspect Criticize Jail After Reporter Gets In

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Attorneys for kidnapping suspect Michael Devlin criticized jail security, saying a New York Post correspondent obtained a jailhouse interview with him by identifying herself as one of his friends.

The newspaper obtained the first interview with the 41-year-old pizzeria manager accused of kidnapping Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. Shawn, now 15, was held captive for more than four years. Ben, 13, was missing four days when both boys were found Jan. 12 at Devlin’s apartment in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood.

Devlin’s attorneys, Michael Kielty and Ethan Corlija, criticized jail security after the Post published a story Sunday in which Devlin talked about being lonely but said life was good for him over the past four years.

“There was a standing order that no media was allowed in to see my client,” Kielty said.

But Franklin County, Mo., Sheriff Gary Toelke released a statement late Sunday saying that security at the jail in Union was not breached. He said an inmate can accept or decline media requests, and in this case, Devlin accepted.

Kielty and Corlija said they planned to ask a judge Monday to move Devlin to a more secure facility, perhaps in St. Louis County, where he lives, or in nearby St. Charles County.

The reporter, Susannah Cahalan, told jail officials that she was a friend of Devlin’s when she went for a visit around 11 a.m. Friday, Toelke said. She filled out the visiting request form and wrote “friend” in the relationship section, he said.

Still, Devlin agreed to the visit. Toelke said jail authorities don’t know whether Cahalan told Devlin she was a reporter.

“It would actually not make any difference to us who she was as long as Devlin granted the interview,” Toelke said.

The sheriff said that after that interview, Devlin signed a statement saying he did not want to conduct media interviews, though he already had a second meeting set up with Cahalan for Saturday. After the two met again Saturday, Devlin’s attorneys issued a list of visitors allowed to see Devlin. That list excludes the media.

Kielty also said the reporter told Devlin she was writing for a university publication, not the Post.

After speaking with Post editor Col Allan, spokesman Howard Rubenstein said, “The response of the New York Post is that they stand by their published report.”

Rubenstein said later, “They’re not going to make any further comments.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Cahalan attends Washington University in St. Louis and used to work for the school paper. E-mail and phone messages left by the AP for a Susannah Cahalan listed as a Washington University student were not returned.

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 except for a brief court appearance on Thursday where he pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping Ben. He faces a separate kidnapping charge in the Shawn Hornbeck case.

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