Officials Say Alabama Hostage Boy Is Safe, Captor Dead
NBCNEWS.COM - A 5-year-old boy held captive for seven days in an underground bunker in southern Alabama is alive and his kidnapper is dead, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Monday afternoon.
Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old man described by his neighbors as a paranoid survivalist, grabbed the boy from a school bus last Tuesday afternoon.
Dykes had boarded the bus and demanded that the bus driver, Charles Poland, 66, turn over two young children. When Poland refused, Dykes then fatally shot him and took the 5-year-old boy named Ethan.
Dykes, a decorated Vietnam veteran, then took Ethan to an underground bunker that neighbors had seen him digging. The bunker is believed to be roughly 8 by 6 feet and to be stocked with supplies. The bunker has a ventilation pipe that authorities have used to deliver items. Authorities have not said how long they believe Dykes can last underground, or discussed a motive for the kidnapping.
Over the last week, hostage negotiators delivered a red Hot Wheels car, Cheez-Its crackers and other food and medicine to the boy, who has a mild form of autism. The FBI said Sunday that the boy's captor "continues to make the environment as comfortable as possible for the child."
Authorities in Alabama said earlier Monday that they were "doing everything humanly possible" to rescue the boy held captive underground for almost a week.
Hostage negotiators have stayed in touch with Dykes, the man suspected of kidnapping the child off a school bus last week and holding him in a bunker. They have given few tactical details.
"He feels like he has a story that's important to him," Sheriff Wally Olson of Dale County told reporters. "Although it's very complex, we're trying to make a safe environment."
Published reports have suggested Dykes wants to talk to a reporter.
Authorities say Dykes, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran described by neighbors as a paranoid menace, kidnapped the boy, named Ethan, after shooting and killing the driver of the bus.
The negotiators had delivered a red Hot Wheels car, Cheez-Its crackers and other food and medicine to the boy, who has a mild form of autism. The FBI said Sunday that the boy's captor "continues to make the environment as comfortable as possible for the child."
The two spent a seventh day Monday in the bunker, believed to be roughly 8 by 6 feet and to be stocked with supplies. The bunker has a ventilation pipe that authorities have used to deliver items. Authorities have not said how long they believe Dykes can last underground, or discussed a motive for the kidnapping.
A federal law enforcement official told NBC News that authorities are flying surveillance aircraft over the site.
Jeffrey Gardere, a child psychologist, said that the boy "is most likely terrified."
"The overriding thought in his head is that he wants his mother, that he just wants to be out of that situation," he said.
The small town of Midland City has held vigils and offered prayers for the boy.
"I wish that I could just hug him and hold him and tell him it was going to be all right," said one neighbor, Sherri Johnson Parker.
The bus driver, Charles Poland, was laid to rest Sunday.
MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) - Authorities say they will be making a major announcement in the case of a 5-year-old who is being held hostage in an underground bunker in Alabama.
The news conference will be held Monday afternoon in Midland City. Police say 65-year-old Jim Dykes has been holding the boy hostage for days.
Before the news conference Monday, an ambulance that had been parked near the scene could be seen driving away. However, it was not clear if anyone was inside, and the vehicle did not have its sirens or emergency lights on.
Daryle Hendry, who lives about a quarter-mile from where Dykes was holed up, says he heard a boom followed by a gunshot this afternoon. It was not immediately known what may have caused the noise.
MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) - Authorities say they still have an open line of communication with an Alabama man accused of abducting a 5-year-old boy and holding him hostage in a bunker.
Sheriff Wally Olson said Saturday that Jimmy Lee Dykes has told them that he has blankets and an electric heater in the bunker. Olson says Dykes has allowed authorities to deliver coloring books, medication and toys for the boy.
Olson says he wants to thank Dykes for taking care of the child and called that very important.
Authorities say Dykes shot a school bus driver Tuesday and took the boy to the bunker on his property in rural Midland City.
Olson would not say whether Dykes has made any demands. The sheriff says he is limited in the details he can release.
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