The missing – Shawn Hornbeck (found)

I stumbled across this tragic story and later discovered it had a happy ending. I hope it will help other families of missing children to maintain their faith during their ordeal.

Shawn Hornbeck was riding his bike in October 2002 in Missouri when he vanished without trace. He was only 11. Vigils were held to mark his birthday and anniversary of his disappearance. His story attracted nationwide media coverage.

Then miraculously, just over four years later, he was found alive and well, along with another boy who had been abducted a few days before their discovery in January. A man has been charged with kidnapping, sexually abusing and attempting to kill Shawn, he has denied the allegations.

This is Shawn’s amazing story:

On Sunday, October 6, 2002 while out riding my bike my life changed forever. I vanished without a trace not far from my rural Richwoods, Missouri home. An intensive search was mounted by federal, state and local authorities, but there were no clues as to what may have happened to me. My parents, along with family and friends announced their intentions to form a private organization to continue the search for me. The response was overwhelming, as thousands of volunteers responded to their pleas for help over the next several months. But still no clues were found. Rumors ran rampant that I had been struck by a car and taken away, or had run across a drug lab and been killed. My parents still never gave up hope, and continued their search – week after week, month after month.

They put my picture on billboards, and in every store and gas station. Countless family and friends put their lives on hold and helped look for me and other missing children. Months became years and still they looked for me. Psychics and frauds loudly proclaimed my demise and told my parents they had talked with me from beyond. But still they kept looking, never giving up hope. I prayed every day that my parents would find me. I knew my parents weren’t giving up, and neither would I.

On Friday, January 12, 2007 my life changed forever once again. Our prayers were answered when I and another missing child were found by authorities in an apartment in Kirkwood, Missouri – ALIVE! I was finally reunited with my family after nearly four and one-half years of captivity. I’ve begun the process of healing and look forward to making up for the time I have lost with my family and education. Our love, hope and faith have kept us strong and will see us through the days ahead.

I hope this story gives hope to the families of young boys like Daniel Morcombe who also vanished without trace.

In memory of those who are still missing.


  1. Hi, just doing some browsing for my Missouri 4g site. Can’t believe the amount of information out there. Looking for something else, but interesting page. Have a nice day.

  2. Cordelia, thank you for that extra info, it sounds truly horrific, poor Shawn. Thankfully, he is still alive.

  3. Cordelia

    There are about 90 charges against the child’s alleged abductor, for this case and another one. The charges include kidnapping, armed criminal action, forcible sodomy, interstate transportation for illegal sex, filming child pornography (or whatever the legal terms are). And “Glenwood,” the only thing “odd,” besides the horror, was Bill O’Reilly saying the victim must have liked it. The Austrian girl was held for 8 years, almost all of the first 6 and much of the last 2 in a tiny underground cell. How these strong children manage to survive such atrocities is a wonder.

  4. Thank you Ellee for finding this ultimately happy missing story and posting it. I hope what Shawn says is true, that he was not abused but somehow I doubt it and suspect he has repressed the memory.

  5. There was something odd going on in that case wasn’t there? Can’t remember precisely what but it was kind of alluded to by some of the media … did you hear about that Austrian girl? I think that was where she was from… kidnapped in her early teens not released for over 5 years. Her name was Natasha. The German-language media were going crazy over that story …
    This is a fascinating blog you’ve got here! I’m a blogger too. I’m at
    If you want to come by. You’re most welcome.
    See you later perhaps –
    All the best
    Gledwood “Vol 2” …

  6. Thank you for posting this – one can only shudder at what the lad must have gone through – and I pray that they are able to put their past behind them and move on…

    Best wishes

  7. How wonderful to read a story about the missing which has had a happy ending, Ellee. Like you, I hope this encourages all the families all over the world who have no news of their loved ones.

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