Police are hoping an offer of a cash reward will jog someone's memory and lead to the discovery of a boy who vanished from his Benton Heights neighborhood more than three years ago.
Benton Township police announced Wednesday that a California-based foundation is offering $5,000 for information leading to the safe return of Steven Kraft, who was last seen on Feb. 15, 2001.
Steven was 12 at the time he disappeared and a sixth-grader at Hull Elementary School. He would now be 15.
Detective Tom Vaught, speaking at an afternoon news conference, said police continue to get tips on the case and follow up every lead.
He said the reward might cause somebody to recall a bit of information that could provide police with a needed break in the case.
"It's my belief that somebody in this community has some idea about what happened to Stevie Kraft," Vaught said. "We have a lot of hope that we can resolve this case."
Last edited by summer_breeze; 02-15-2010 at 09:25 PM.
**Bumping for Steven
Anything more? It's been four years.
Bumping for Steven.
He is our child of the day today and his information can be e-mailed out.
As child of the day he will also be archived, meaning people can look up previous children of the day and it has an ongoing effect.
I know Steven was a role model child at school but had this one incident which caused him to be suspended. Was there any mention of the trouble perhaps following him home from school? Perhaps threats from the boy or his family that he had been in trouble for fighting with?
I just read on AMW's site that they think Devlin may be connected with Steven's disappearance.
Investigators uncovered no link between a man charged with kidnapping two boys in Missouri and the disappearance of Steven Kraft.
Kraft was 12 when he disappeared near his Benton Township home in 2001. He went outside to play with his two dogs and never returned.
The FBI was looking into whether his disappearance is connected to suspected kidnapper Michael Devlin.
12-year-old disappeared after going outside with his dogs
By JULIE SWIDWA - H-P Staff Writer
Published: Monday, February 15, 2010 1:10 PM EST
BENTON TOWNSHIP - Hardly a day goes by that Benton Township Detective Lt. Delmar Lange doesn't think about Steven Kraft, especially now that Lange's own children are grown.
"It's every parent's nightmare. My youngest was close to his age at the time, and I think how much those parents have missed out on," Lange said.
Steven was 12 when he disappeared nine years ago after going outside with his dogs. The dogs eventually returned home, but Steven's family never saw him again. The family was living in the Benton Heights neighborhood where houses have since been demolished for an airport runway expansion.
As some of the previous posts mentioned, there were some theories being worked on regarding a possible connection to Michael Devlin. I am sure it is hard to prove or disprove this idea unless Devlin cooperates. He is already facing life in prison. If he is involved and realizes that his conviction cannot be appealed maybe he will own up to it if he was involved. Certainly, Steven's age (similar to the two others that we know he kidnapped) as well as location (Devlin's family had a cottage north of where Steven dissapeared and his travel route would have brought him very close) sounded hopeful. It may take someone to confess at this point to solve this sad case.
I was working in Benton Harbor at the time of his disappearance. I wish that something would break in this case.
Part I of II
Part of what I am going to say I hope I am right about. Another part I am going to say, I hope I’m wrong about. First off, this has nothing to do with the Johnny Gosch case per se, though it did lead me to this. The Shawn Hornbeck case does have a direct bearing on it, however.
Most people who frequent forums like this hoping to be helpful are aware of Noreen Gosch, her story and her tragic loss; though she fervently believes her long missing son is still alive. Shawn Hornbeck certainly is and so might her son be. I hope so as we all do. At her website, she has numerous photos of boys bound and gagged, some of which were anonymously sent to her while others apparently came from some Russian pedophilic site which is now thankfully defunct.
Mrs. Gosch contends that some of these photos are of her son Johnny, presumably taken not too long after his disappearance and presumed abduction. Looking at a photo of Johnny, I am skeptical that any of these boys are him. (For one thing, there are two series of photos of boys in their pajama bottoms and without tops. She contends both are photos of Johnny whereas I don’t think the two series are of the same boy. Therefore, if I am right in that observation then obviously one of them can’t be Johnny Gosch.) But this is not relevant to this post and I don’t want to argue the point—or her conspiracy theories—here.
Here is the part that I hope I am right about. I am not overly concerned about any of the photos on Mrs. Gosch’s website. I believe they were all taken by perverts who conned kids into posing like that, or else paid them to, with the boys not having had a clue as to the true motivation of the photographers, their sexual fetish and desire to share such photos with others like them. I think this because in many of these pictures, if not all, it does not appear to me that the subjects’ hands are all that securely bound. The photographers were not all that concerned with actually restraining the boys, but rather were simply interested in presenting such an appearance so they and other perverts could drool over them. In other words, these pictures might be described as “decorative bondage” as opposed to functional.
I'd hardly call myself an expert on tying people up. I’m neither a criminal nor one who has any interest in the “bondage and discipline” sexual fetish. I do, however, write both fiction and nonfiction, just as a hobby. I once wrote a story about a kidnapping and like all good writers (as I like to think I am), I did research during the course of which I learned the proper way to tie someone’s hands effectively; something which might seem to be elementary to most people, but at least according to my source material is not. This is why people who are tied-up so often manage to free themselves eventually: incompetence.
Anyway, as I said, this is the part that I hope I’m right about, that none of these kids were ever in any real physical danger.
For the part that I hope I am wrong about, there is another photo that one can find on the Google Image feature by inserting “Noreen Gosch” into the Google search engine. (It must be Google.) On the first page of the images, there is a photo of a blondish-haired boy who is tied up and gagged on a piece of furniture that looks to be perhaps a sectional sofa of some kind. (I’m even less an expert on furniture!) Although the photo is not obscene per se, the boy is fully clothed, this photo does disturb me, greatly. Whoever tied this kid up knew what he was doing. It is not decorative; there are no superfluous bonds for show. Unless this kid was a budding Houdini, I believe he was helpless.
This photo is not currently on Mrs. Gosch’s website. Since it appears on Google Images under her name, I would guess that she once had it on her site but removed it for some reason. I don’t know and it’s not important.
Last edited by Armchair14; 05-02-2010 at 02:55 PM.
Part II of II
Shawn Hornbeck related that for the first month of his captivity by that fiend Michael Devlin he was tied up on a futon, a type of sofa, while Devlin was at work. Since this was before Shawn had been terrorized into making what his mom refers to as his “deal with the devil” not to try to escape and to be obedient to his abductor, I would assume that at that point had the boy been able to escape he would have. Shawn used the word “tied,” so I assume he meant by rope. Had he been handcuffed or chained, I assume he would have said that. For the boy to have been left like that for a month for several hours a day without ever once having been able to free himself, it would appear that Michael Devlin also knew what he was doing in tying the child up. For Devlin to apparently have had such (apparently justified) confidence in his diabolic handiwork, I assume he had had some experience in such matters.
Authorities and others have speculated that it would have been most unusual for Devlin, in his mid-thirties at the time he abducted Shawn Hornbeck, to have never had any previous criminal contact with kids. Yet, he had no criminal record, just numerous traffic tickets and some civil tax problems with his state income tax bureau. Although there is no proof at this juncture that Devlin ever killed a kid (or anyone), by his actions in regard to Shawn (and his intentions in regard to Ben Ownby as related by Shawn), it does not appear as if Devlin could be ruled out as a man who would not go so far as murdering his victims to keep them quiet.
One of the cases of missing children in which authorities are interested in investigating Devlin is that of Steven Kraft, a 12-year old boy who went missing February 15th, 2001 in Michigan. Devlin’s family owned property in Michigan and the route to it from Devlin’s apartment in Missouri would have taken Devlin very close to where Steven lived and vanished from. Furthermore, police are reported to have discovered proof that Devlin had indeed been in the Michigan area at the time that Steven Kraft vanished. However, there is no physical evidence.
I believe there is a very good chance (and again, I hope I am wrong here) that the bound and gagged boy in the Google Image I referred to previously is indeed Steven Kraft. It is known by the Shawn Hornbeck case that Devlin liked to make tapes of his victims and their sufferings, at least Shawn’s. Perhaps he took one or more photographs of Steven if he had been his abductor. Within the photograph of this boy, there might well be enough seen of the room in which the photo was taken for the authorities to identify it as having been taken in the Devlins’ Michigan property.
The boy in the Google Image photo is presented in profile and unfortunately I cannot find a profile photo of Steven Kraft. However, looking at the two photos I find a very close resemblance to the unknown boy in the photo and the photo of Steven Kraft found here:
The hair color and texture of the two boys look to be identical, as well as the styling, though it is slightly longer on the boy in the Google Image. The eyes, eyebrows, nose and head shape all look identical to me and by using one’s imagination and imagining what Steven Kraft would have looked like in profile at that age, I believe the resemblance is uncanny.
You can find the Google Image the way I did, the way I described above. The photo of the boy tied up on the sofa-like thing is currently on the first page and stands out by its red ambience. You can enlarge the image to get a good look and compare it to the photo of Steven I link to above. After you insert “Noreen Gosch” and the hits come up, just a look a little down the page for the images.
Once again, I hope I am wrong, and I hope others will report back that I am off base; that the boy in the Google Image is certainly not Steven Kraft, because the implications of my being right are not good. But if not, are the police and FBI aware of this photo? If so, have they been able to link it to Devlin’s property in Michigan? If the property has been remolded since then, maybe one of Devlin’s (totally innocent) family members might be wiling to identify it as having been taken at their property in Michigan. The Devlin property in Michigan was basically used in the summers by the family. In February, it is likely that Devlin could have been assured that he would have had the place to himself.
Whether or not Michael Devlin was involved in the disappearance of Steven Kraft, I hope I am wrong that the boy in the Google Image is Steven and that whoever the kid was that he’s just fine today. I hope.
Last edited by Armchair14; 05-02-2010 at 02:36 PM.
I wouldn't definitively rule it out, but if you're referring to the picture below, based on the yellowing of the image and the clothing worn by the boy, it looks like it was taken in the early '80s.
That is indeed the photo I was referring to. Thank you for posting it here. I didn’t know how to as I’m not very computer tech savvy, I’m afraid. Would it be possible for you to present this photo in a single post alongside or above the one of Steven Kraft I linked to so others might compare them?
Your observation about apparently anachronistic clothing is astute. Indeed, one of the reasons I had some doubts about this theory is that the clothing the boy is wearing isn’t what Steven had been wearing at the time he went missing. However, I reasoned that it was possible that Devlin (or whomever took the picture and presumably abducted the boy if it is Steven) made the boy dress in other clothes that he provided as a way to minimize the chance the boy would be recognized if the photo ever publicly surfaced.
You say the clothes look to be early eighties? Could the clothes have once belonged to Devlin (born in 1965) or one of his brothers at around that age? The dungs look somewhat beaten to me. Your point about the photograph looking too old, however, does reassure me to some extent. If you are expert in such matters, or even very knowledgeable, then this would indeed seem to rule out this theory. As I said, never have I been so hopeful to be wrong about anything.
Last edited by Armchair14; 05-02-2010 at 03:45 PM.
Armchair14, no, I'm no authority on photography or fashion. Empirically, though, I would suggest that photo was not taken in 2001 or later. The clothes, the furniture, the faded tint of the image, all indicate, to my admittedly inexpert eye, a much older time period (early to mid-'80s, perhaps as old as late-'70s).
Below is the side-by-side you wanted, if I can get them side-by-side. They might end up one over the other.
CrimeSolver - I'm no expert either but I agree with everything you say.
Short of Devlin or another kidnapper using an old camera, old clothes (from his own childhood) and being in a place that hadn't been refurbished for 20 years or more, I can't see this being the case.
I do see a very strong resemblance between the two boys but I suspect it's no more than an unfortunate coincidence.
Thank you very much. That was most kind of you. I appreciate it.
Yes, I think CS and you are right, and I thank you for also noting what appears to be a striking resemblance between the boys. I’m not a man given to wild fancies of imagination, and I’m glad to see that verified here. Yes, I suppose my hunch is wrong and that makes me exceedingly happy, though I’m still wary about whomever this kid had actually been. Maybe it had been something innocuous or maybe it had been a kidnapping shot. Perhaps someone will identify it one day and remove all doubts, hopefully with a happy resolution.
Last edited by Armchair14; 05-02-2010 at 04:40 PM.
There is definitely a resemblance, but how close it is one cannot say because of the positioning and the poor quality of both photos, especially the horizontal one. All I can say is that both boys are blond and roughly of the same age and appearance.
It would be nice to positively identify the kid in this photo and all of the ones posted at Noreen Gosch's website, and hopefully explain away the photos as being the work of some creep or creeps who took pics and then let the boys go to live out their lives.
The piece of furniture, or sectional, the boy in the google image appears to be inside a camper. The dining table folded down to be level with the seats and cushions from the seats and the back of the seats would cover the table and seats to make a bed. It looks like a red plastic water container under the bed which was used for camping also. Is there a way to determine which manufacturer used that plaid pattern for cushions and what years that plaid pattern was used in campers? The photo reminds me of a photo that came from a polaroid camera.
You’re very observant. It would seem logical that whoever took the picture, for whatever reason, would use a self-developing camera for obvious reasons. If the photographer, and possible abductor, used an old Polaroid, I don’t know if that could make the photograph look older than what it is or not. CS and Cymro seem fairly certain that it is from a much earlier time period than when Steven Kraft had been that age and went missing. If so, then the kid in the Google Image photo is either now a man in his forties and hopefully doing just fine or is beyond human help.
It just seems a little odd to me that there should have been two kids separated in time by twenty years who should have appeared so similar in appearance, with their hair seemingly styled identically down almost to the last strand, its texture and the way it flows and such; the pseudo-sideburns (not covering the ear) positioned and angled identically and the locks falling over their foreheads in exactly the same way and spot on the right side. (The gag is distorting the boy's hair in the back of the GI photo.)
If you (or anyone) find any information out about your camper hunch and the décor as to time period, please report back.
Last edited by Armchair14; 05-04-2010 at 02:13 PM.
I'd like to point out that the Devlin family cabin was in the area where this steven boy disappeared. Also, some people keep the same furniture for years and years and don't buy new stuff. For instance, up until my parents bought a new house in 1999 they had the same furniture they had in the late 60's. I can't see someone changing out the furniture in a cabin they only go to in the summer or a couple weekends a month changing the decor to go along with changing styles. As for the film, maybe they bought a bunch of rolls at one time and so they had older leftover film from 10 years prior to use up. Also, you can get clothes that look like that from thrift stores.
I don't want this kid to be Steven, I just had some thoughts I wanted to share.
This photo looks to me like it might have been taken inside of an RV.
The wide cushions with no back rest, and the storage space underneath appear to be something designed to be converted to a bed. The cheap paneling is also typical of something that you would see inside of an RV.