Ben Ownby is a straight-A student and Boy Scout who always lets his parents know where he is. So when Ben was late coming home from school on January 8, 2007, his parents knew immediately that something was terribly wrong.
Doris and Don Ownby began frantically searching for their son and called to see if friends and neighbors had seen him. Don reached out to Mitchell, a 15-year-old neighbor, who told him about the crucial clue of the case. "He relayed the story about this white pickup being sideways in the road and driving erratically, and then from there I called the sheriff's department," Don says.
During the days Ben was missing, Doris says she felt an indescribable "ache" in her heart. Still, she believed she would see her son again. "We just would do everything we could to find him," she says.
Then, four days after his disappearance, police spotted the white pickup truck and Doris and Don were finally reunited with their son. "I just didn't want to quit hugging him," Doris says.
Doris and Don are still reluctant to let their 13-year-old out of their sight. They say Ben will return to school after he speaks with counselors, but they haven't yet thought about whether they will let him ride the bus again.
The family says they will let Ben take his time in telling them what happened in those four days. "I sat down with him the other day and told him that he could talk to us about it any time he wanted to at his own time," Doris says. "We just want him to feel comfortable first."