Alabama Standoff: 5-year-old boy held nearly a week, more details emerging about suspect Jimmy Lee Dykes
(CBS/AP) MIDLAND CITY, Ala. - A hostage standoff in which a 5-year-old boy is held captive in southeast Alabama entered its seventh day Monday as more details emerged about suspect Jimmy Dykes.
Authorities said 65-year-old Dykes gunned down a school bus driver Tuesday and abducted a 5-year-old boy from the bus before taking him to an underground bunker on his rural property. The driver, 66-year-old Charles Poland Jr., was buried Sunday.
Dykes, a decorated Vietnam-era veteran described as a loner who railed against the government, lives up a dirt road just off the main road north to the state capital of Montgomery, about 80 miles away.
The FBI said in a statement Sunday that authorities continue to have an open line of communication with Dykes. The little boy requested Cheez-Its and a red Hot Wheels car, both of which were delivered to the bunker, a separate statement said. Authorities said they were also delivering medicine and other comfort items, and that Dykes was making the child as comfortable as possible.Mel Adams, a Midland City Council member who has known Dykes since they were ages 3 and 4, said Dykes is estranged from his family. Adams said he didn't know what caused the falling-out, but that he knew Dykes "had told part of his family to go to hell."
Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper said Dykes' sister is in a nursing home. Adams said that law enforcement officers have talked to Dykes' family members and advised them not to speak with reporters, and that officers told his sister there was nothing she could do to help the child in the bunker.
Government records and interviews with neighbors indicate that Dykes joined the Navy in Midland City, serving on active duty from 1964 to 1969. His record shows several awards, including the Vietnam Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. Dykes was trained in aviation maintenance and at one point was based in Japan. It was unclear if he saw combat in Vietnam.
At some point after his time in the Navy, Dykes lived in Florida, where he worked as a surveyor and a long-haul truck driver. It's unclear how long he stayed there. He had some scrapes with the law in Florida, including a 1995 arrest for improper exhibition of a weapon. The misdemeanor was dismissed. He also was arrested for marijuana possession in 2000.
He returned to Alabama about two years ago. Neighbors described Dykes as a man who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property, and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a firearm.
His neighbor Michael Creel said Dykes had an adult daughter, but the two lost touch years ago.
In the nearby community of Ozark, more than 500 people filed into the Civic Center on Sunday to pay a final tribute to the slain bus driver, Poland, who was being hailed as a hero for protecting the other children on the school bus before he was shot Tuesday.
Poland is now "an angel who is watching over" the little boy, said Dale County School Superintendent Donny Bynum.
Bynum read letters written by three students who rode on Poland's bus. "You didn't deserve to die but you died knowing you kept everyone safe," one child wrote.
According to Jimmy Dykes neighbor, Creel, his property has a white trailer that Dykes said he bought from FEMA after it was used to house evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. The property also has a steel shipping container in which Dykes stores tools and supplies.
Next to the container is the underground bunker where authorities said Dykes is holed up with the 5-year-old. Neighbors said the bunker has a pipe so Dykes could hear people coming near his driveway. Authorities were using the ventilation pipe to communicate with him.
Creel said he helped Dykes with supplies to build the bunker and has been in it twice, adding that Dykes wanted protection from hurricanes.
"He said he lived in Florida and had hurricanes hit. He wanted someplace he could go down in and be safe," Creel said. Authorities say the bunker is about 6 feet by 8 feet, and the only entrance is a trap door at the top.
Such bunkers are not uncommon in rural Alabama because of the threat of tornadoes.
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