Devlin In Michigan

Date Published 05.16.07
It was a throwaway quote by his brother that first alerted me to the possibility that Michael Devlin was responsible for the disappearance of Steven Kraft. I have ties to Benton Harbor, Michigan, where Steven disappeared, and his face, sweet but troubled looking, has long haunted me.

Steven Kraft

But although Steven, 12, fit Devlin's victim profile, I had no reason to believe Devlin had any ties to Michigan. That is, until Devlin's brother, Brian, was quoted in a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Brian Devlin, who in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch profile last week talked about the personal struggles that eventually estranged him from the family, said his parents were good to him and his siblings. He still has fond memories of Christmas celebrations and family vacations on Lake Michigan.

So Devlin was familiar with the Lake Michigan area. How did he zero in on Steven? I thought about how Devlin was known to drive for miles through small-town areas trolling for young victims. And there was more: Steven strongly resembled Devlin's other two victims, and was around the same age. I posted a story on March 1 speculating Devlin was responsible for Steven's disappearance. That day I also called the Benton Harbor, Michigan police. The lead detective on Steven's case was excited by the tip and eager for more information. Could I place Devlin in Michigan at the time of Steven's disappearance? he asked. I could not.

But now it looks like the police can. Thanks to a True Crime Diary tipster for providing the following update:

Police consider Devlin a big lead in disappearance of Michigan boy

07:19 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 16, 2007

(KMOV) -- Did Michael Devlin's trail of trouble lead all the way to Michigan?

Police are investigating Devlin for other missing boy cases, but authorities in western Michigan are focusing on one in particular.

12-year-old Steven Kraft was kidnapped in 2001 as he walked his dogs.

It gave Jodi Bopp cold chills to think that Michael Devlin could have kidnapped her brother Steven Kraft.

As a boy, Devlin's family would rent a cottage and vacation for several weeks in the quaint village of Pentwater.

Devlin's brother says these trips were the highlight of every summer.

Pentwater sits just two hours north of Benton Township where 12-year-old Stevie was kidnapped in February 2001.

So how does someone with such a seemingly good upbringing go so bad?

Keep in mind Devlin has confessed to kidnapping Ben Ownby and has now been charged with attempted murder for Shawn Hornbeck, but did he kidnap a Michigan boy? The FBI in west Michigan calls it a big lead.

Sources say they can put Devlin in Michigan close to the time when Steven Kraft went missing.

The rugged, remote town of Benton Township is very similar to Richwoods, MO where Shawn Hornbeck was kidnapped.

Police say they know Michael Devlin didn't mind a long drive. They say he would've traveled on Route 94 or 196.

The FBI has subpoenaed all Devlin's time sheets from the Imo's where he worked for more than 20 years. They are trying to connect Devlin to numerous missing boy cases.

Devlin's longtime boss is having a tough time with all of this. His gut lead him to go to police within days of Ben Ownby's kidnapping.

Police say in the first month after kidnapping Shawn, Devlin tried to kill him by suffocating him.

Steven Kraft's sister says if Devlin did grab Stevie one year before he allegedly kidnapped Hornbeck, the outcome would have been different. She believes that her brother would have fought and that could have caused him to get hurt.

Police have searched the Devlin vacation rental and the area around it in Pentwater, but to date, have no physical evidence tying Devlin to the missing child.

Police say as a teenager, Michael Devlin would take the family car from Pentwater and be gone 10 or 12 hours at a time, but what was he doing? Did anyone suffer?

The victim's sister just wants Devlin to come clean.

Police say they have gas receipts showing Michael Devlin in Michigan many times, and close to the time Steven Kraft went missing.

The police task force remains very interested in any independent witness to put Devlin in that area and information on any cars he may have driven to Michigan.

The Feed

RT @emilynussbaum: The artful @hodgman's straightforward case for Hillary:
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@johnlevenstein Thanks for asking, btw. That's the kind of elevated discourse missing lately. A lot of mud slinging. #I'mNotAboveItEither
@johnlevenstein Can't convey it all thru Twitter but yes, she has flaws. Too poll-driven, burned needed bridges, trouble owning mistakes.