Elizabeth Smart Gives Hope to Shawn Hornbeck Family

Originally on KFVS12.com March 13, 2003

Elizabeth Smart Gives Hope to Shawn Hornbeck Family
By: Kate Scott

RICHWOODS, Mo. --The safe return of Elizabeth Smart has given new hope to the family of a missing Heartland boy.Eleven-year old Shawn Hornbeck was last seen near his Richwoods, Missouri home on October 6th.

While Shawn's family has never given up on his safe return, now they say they have even more reason to keep searching.

“I always keep that hope that we're going to find him alive,” says Shawn’s mother, Pam Akers.  “But as time goes by, I have to be honest…the last couple of weeks it's been extremely hard on me. This definitely was the good news that I needed to renew my hope and renew my energy.”  Pam Akers hasn't seen her son for more than five months now, since that fateful day the eleven-year old went out for a bike ride and never came home.

While most investigators will tell you it's extremely rare for a child who's been missing that long to return home safe and sound, Akers says the Elizabeth Smart case has renewed her faith.

“It's given me and all the volunteers new hope that it is a possibility that we're going to find Shawn out there alive,” she tells Heartland News.

The first few weeks after Shawn disappeared, hundreds of volunteers converged on his hometown to help look for him. Five months later, there are a lot fewer volunteers at the Shawn Hornbeck Search and Rescue Command Center.  But Akers says those who are still involved are there seven days a week.  They won't stop looking, and they won't put away his picture.

“One thing we've always said is that we're going to keep pushing Shawn’s face out there until we do find him,” says Akers.  “Because if you don't keep showing the face, people will soon forget. And we're not going to let everyone forget about him.”

It’s the same perseverance that the Smart family had, and for them, it worked. Pam Akers just hopes that someday soon her own family will be in the headlines with the same happy ending.  “When we do find Shawn,” she vows, “I guarantee you, everybody in the world will know about it!”

If you think you've seen Shawn Hornbeck or have any information that could help solve this case, you can call the Shawn Hornbeck Search and Rescue Command Center at 573-678-2999.