Sheriff thanks suspect for taking care of boy held hostage, as Alabama standoff continues

February 02, 2013

The Alabama mother of the 5-year-old boy held hostage in an underground bunker for five days is 'hanging on by a thread,' said a local politician who visited the woman.

State Rep. Steve Clouse, who represents the Midland City area, said the mother told him that the boy has Asperger's syndrome as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said in a briefing with reporters that Jimmy Lee Dykes has told them he has blankets and an electric heater in the bunker. Olson said Dykes has allowed authorities to deliver coloring books, medication and toys for the boy.

"I want to thank him for taking care of our boy," Olson said. "That's very important."

Negotiators were still trying to persuade Dykes, 65, considered a loner by many, to surrender. Police have said they believe the Vietnam-era veteran fatally shot a school bus driver on Tuesday, and then abducted the boy from the bus and disappeared into the home-made bunker.

While police were mostly staying mum about the delicate negotiations, it fell to neighbors to fill in the blanks about Dykes, described by some as a menacing figure who held anti-government views.

One of Dykes' next-door neighbors said the suspect spent two or three months constructing the bunker, digging several feet into the ground and then building a structure of lumber and plywood, which he covered with sand and dirt.

Neighbor Michael Creel said Dykes put the plastic pipe underground from the bunker to the end of his driveway so he could hear if anyone drove up to his gate. When Dykes finished the shelter a year or so ago, he invited Creel to see it -- and he did.

"He was bragging about it. He said, `Come check it out," Creel said.

He said he believes Dykes' goal with the standoff is to publicize his political beliefs.

"I believe he wants to rant and rave about politics and government," Creel said. "He's very concerned about his property. He doesn't want his stuff messed with."

Police have used a ventilation pipe to the bunker to talk to the man and deliver the boy medication for his emotional disorders, but they have not revealed how often they are in touch or what the conversations have been about. Authorities waited until Friday to confirm the suspect's identity.

While much of what is going on inside the bunker remains a mystery, local officials who have spoken to police or the boy's family have described a small room with food, electricity and a TV. And while the boy has his medication, an official also said he has been crying for his parents.

Meanwhile, Midland City residents held out hope that the standoff would end safely and mourned for the slain bus driver and his family. Candlelight vigils have been held nightly at a gazebo in front of City Hall. Residents prayed, sang songs such as "Amazing Grace" and nailed homemade wooden crosses on the gazebo's railings alongside signs that read: "We are praying for you."

"We're doing any little thing that helps show support for him," said 15-year-old Taylor Edwards said.

Former hostage negotiators said authorities must be cautious and patient as long as they are confident that the boy is unharmed. Ex-FBI hostage negotiator Clint Van Zandt advised against any drastic measures such as cutting the electricity or putting sleeping gas inside the bunker because it could agitate Dykes.

The negotiator should try to ease Dykes' anxieties over what will happen when the standoff ends, and refer to both the boy and Dykes by their first names, he said.

"I want to give him a reason to come out," Van Zandt said.

Police seemed to be following that pattern. At a brief news conference to release a photo of Dykes, they brushed off any questions about possible charges.

"It's way too early for that," said Kevin Cook, a spokesman for the Alabama state troopers.
Police have described the bunker as about 4 feet underground, with about 6-by-8 feet of floor space and the PVC pipe that negotiators were speaking through.

Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a family therapist and psychiatry professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said the boy's emotional troubles might make things even more difficult for him.

"They have less way to make sense of things," she said of children with Asperger's and ADHD.
The normally quiet red-clay road leading to the bunker was busy Friday with more than a dozen police cars and trucks, a fire truck, a helicopter, officers from multiple agencies and news media near Midland City. The town, population 2,300, is about 100 miles southeast of Montgomery.

Police vehicles have come and gone for hours from the command post, a small church nearby.

Neighbors said Dykes was easily angered and 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.

He was in the Navy from 1964 to 1969, serving some time in Japan, according to military records.

Authorities said Dykes boarded a stopped school bus filled with 21 children on Tuesday afternoon and demanded two boys between 6 and 8 years old. When the driver tried to block his way, the gunman shot him several times and took the 5-year-old boy.

The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by local residents as a hero who gave his life to protect the pupils on his bus.

Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump. Neighbor Claudia Davis said he yelled and fired shots at her and her family over damage Dykes claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.

Creel said his father and Dykes are friends. Creel said that after Dykes' arrest, Dykes wrote a 2- to 3-page letter that at least in part addressed the menacing case.

Michael Creel said he hasn't seen the letter but that his father, Greg Creel, has. Dykes reportedly told the elder Creel he had sent the letter to the local media, politicians and Alabama's governor.
Police on Friday took a copy of the letter from the Creels' home, according to Michael Creel. Reached for comment, Greg Creel confirmed the existence of the letter but declined further comment and said he was cooperating with police.

A neighbor directly across the street, Brock Parrish, said Dykes usually wore overalls and glasses and his posture was hunched-over. He said Dykes usually drove a run-down "creeper" van with some of the windows covered in aluminum foil.

Parrish often saw him digging in his yard, as if he were preparing to lay down a driveway or building foundation. He lived in a small camping trailer and patrolled his lawn at night, walking from corner to corner with a flashlight and a long gun. Authorities have not disclosed what firearms Dykes might have in his possession.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/02/02/alabama-standoff-enters-third-...

January 31, 2013

'He has no regard for human life': First picture of 'survivalist killer' holding boy, five, hostage in underground bunker - as cops fear they may be holed up for months.

The 'survivalist killer' who allegedly shot dead a bus driver, kidnapped a five-year-old boy and is holding him hostage in an underground bunker has 'absolutely no regard for human life', a neighbor said today.

Jimmy Lee Dykes, a retired Alabama trucker, is known in Midland City for being a violent and paranoid man. 

Neighbor Ronda Wilbur told ABCNews: 'I cannot even fathom the whys or anything like that. 

'I know that he has totally and completely no regard for human life, or any sort of life.

'I think that he was obviously been planning something for a long time. 

'I had always figured he was more or less a wacko survivalist, but it's obvious that he had this very well thought out and arranged, and it explains as to why he did so much work in the dark.'

In a dramatic turn MailOnline has learned Dykes says he will release the boy if a reporter is sent in to tell his story.

The survivalist made the extraordinary offer on the first day of what has now turned into a siege situation with the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team on site, emergency services and a host of media focused on the piece of Alabama bluff under which Dykes and the boy, Ethan, are holed up.

A source with the local sheriff's office has revealed that a CID Lieutenant spoke with Dykes for the first four hours of the hostage situation, communicating via a pipe sticking out from the ground – the only surface sign of the bunker’s location.

In those first crucial hours, Vietnam veteran Dykes attempted to strike his bargain – the boy in return for a reporter to tell his story of ‘how the government had screwed him.’

According to the source, the bunker lies beneath what appears to be landscaped garden. 

Dykes has been holed up in the six by eight foot bunker since Tuesday, when he allegedly got on a school bus and shot and killed driver Charles Poland before snatching Ethan and taking him to the hideaway four feet underground. 

Scroll down to hear the negotiations.

Long wait: Police say Jimmy Lee Dykes likely has supplies in his shelter to last weeks or months. He has previously spent eight days in the bunker

Long wait: Police say Jimmy Lee Dykes likely has supplies in his shelter to last weeks or months. He has previously spent eight days in the bunker.

Hero: Murdered bus driver Charles Poland Jr, 66, was hailed as a hero for trying to stop the abduction of the children from his school bus. His wife said he loved all of the students he drove

Hero: Murdered bus driver Charles Poland Jr, 66, was hailed as a hero for trying to stop the abduction of the children from his school bus. His wife said he loved all of the students he drove.

A candlelight vigil honors the memory of bus driver Charles Poland and pleads for the release of a five-year-old boy held hostage in a bunker by Poland's alleged killer

A candlelight vigil honors the memory of bus driver Charles Poland and pleads for the release of a five-year-old boy held hostage in a bunker by Poland's alleged killer.

Stand-off: Police are communicating with Dykes through a pipe into his bunker

Stand-off: Police are communicating with Dykes through a pipe into his bunker

Wilbur said that she would often see with a gun patrolling his property when she would return home from work. He would threaten to shoot anyone who came close.

'He was very verbal that he hates all animals, and he didn't want any animals or people anywhere near his land,' she told ABC. 'He told us flat out he would shoot any dogs that came onto his property.'

Wilbur said Dykes beat her 120-pound dog Max with a lead pipe and left him to die at the side of the road. He died a week later.

Five-year-old Ethan has been crying for his mother as police continue to plead with Dykes after it emerged today he may have enough supplies to last for months.

Police have settled in to Midland City, Alabama, for the long haul as they continue to negotiate with the 'survivalist' and plead with him to let five-year-old Ethan go without harm.

Last night hundreds of people gathered in the city - which has a population of around 2,300 - to say prayers for the boy's safe return. 

The crowd also honored Charles Poland, who was allegedly killed by Dykes as he tried to prevent the gunman from hurting any children when he stormed the 66-year-old's bus on Tuesday. 

It was revealed today the bus driver was planning on giving Dykes a gift of marmalade and yard eggs the same day he was shot dead to thank him for smoothing out the sand and dirt on a part of the road on the bus route.

Dykes has previously stayed in the bunker for eight days straight and police believe he has enough supplies stored inside to last him several months. 

Prepared: Heavily-armed SWAT officers stood by, ready to act on a moment's notice, as police negotiations with alleged gunman Jimmy Lee Dykes entered their third day

Prepared: Heavily-armed SWAT officers stood by, ready to act on a moment's notice, as police negotiations with alleged gunman Jimmy Lee Dykes entered their third day.

Standing watch: Dykes is allegedly holding a 6-year-old autistic boy hostage in his homemade bunker on his property behind Destiny Church in Midland City, Alabama

Standing watch: Dykes is allegedly holding a 6-year-old autistic boy hostage in his homemade bunker on his property behind Destiny Church in Midland City, Alabama.

Over a hundred people gathered at City Hall for the candlelight vigil in Midland City, Alabama

Over a hundred people gathered at City Hall for the candlelight vigil in Midland City, Alabama.

Aaron Poland and Lydia Hancock, son and daughter of murdered bus driver Charles Poland, react as they talk about him during an interview

Aaron Poland and Lydia Hancock, son and daughter of murdered bus driver Charles Poland, react as they talk about him during an interview

The shelter is about four feet underground, with about six-by-eight feet of floor space

Police say the kindergartener, whose mother calls him 'Love Bug,' is unhurt and is watching TV in the bunker, which has electricity.

He asked for crayons and a coloring book, which Dykes allowed police to pass to him through a four-foot-wide, 60-feet-long PVC pipe that runs into the bunker. 

Dkyes has also let police pass the boy medication. Ethan suffers from Asperger's syndrome and ADHD.

The boy's mother has been staying at the command center police established near bunker.

It seems now, though, that police are settling in for the long haul. 

'He will have to give up sooner or later because we are not leaving,' Pickard police Chief James Arrington told ABC News. 'It's pretty small, but he's been known to stay in there eight days.'

'This isn't going to end itself. You need to come out and talk to us...We are not going away,' an officer shouted.

WFSA-TV was able to capture some of the communication.

'Give up! You need to exit the shelter, put down any weapons you have and approach police,' an officer can be heard saying.

Law officers patrol the Dale County hostage scene on Thursday morning

Law officers patrol the Dale County hostage scene on Thursday morning

Panic: A suspect, identified as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, allegedly held up a school bus Tuesday in Midland City, Alabama, shooting dead the bus driver and taking a boy hostage

Panic: A suspect, identified as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, allegedly held up a school bus Tuesday in Midland City, Alabama, shooting dead the bus driver and taking a boy hostage.

Packed: The Alabama State Police, the FBI and the ATF have joined Dale County sheriff's deputies on the scene

Packed: The Alabama State Police, the FBI and the ATF have joined Dale County sheriff's deputies on the scene.

National attention: The hostage standoff has turned the nation's focus to the tiny town in rural southeast Alabama

National attention: The hostage standoff has turned the nation's focus to the tiny town in rural southeast Alabama - though police are still releasing only minimal information

Neighbors say Dykes is a 'paranoid survivalist' with 'anti-American views,' who often patrolled his property at night armed with a flashlight and a shotgun and threatened to kill any children who came on his property.

He had been scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump. 

Neighbor Claudia Davis said he yelled and fired shots at her, her son and her baby grandson over damage Dykes claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.

Court records showed Dykes was arrested in Florida in 1995 for improper exhibition of a weapon, but the misdemeanor was dismissed. 

The circumstances of the arrest were not detailed in his criminal record. He was also arrested for marijuana possession in 2000.

Witnesses say Dykes may have allegedly kidnapped the boy, thinking he could use a young hostage as leverage against his legal troubles. 

The bus driver, Charles Poland, 66, was hailed as a hero at a memorial service on Wednesday - and remembered as a man who loved the children he drove home. 

Witnesses said he tried to stop Dykes when he boarded his school bus about 3.30pm as he was dropping students off from school. Dykes allegedly demanded two children.

When Mr Poland intervened, Dykes shot him four times, killing him, witnesses told police. 

Little Ethan is said to have fainted after seeing his bus driver shot and that is how Dykes was able to kidnap him.

Jan Poland, the bus driver's wife of 44 years, said she was not surprised her husband gave his life protecting the students on the bus. 

'He loved them. He loved everybody and he was loved,' she told the Dothan Eagle. 

Day three: Police continued their vigil over the area where a young autistic boy is being held hostage in a bunker by a man who allegedly killed the child's bus driver

Day three: Police on Thursday continued their vigil over the area where a young autistic boy is being held hostage in a bunker by a man who allegedly killed the child's bus driver

Out in force: Dozens of local police officers, Alabama State Police troopers and federal agents from the ATF and FBI swarmed the area where the boy was being held captive

Out in force: Dozens of local police officers, Alabama State Police troopers and federal agents from the ATF and FBI swarmed the area where the boy was being held captive

Gearing up: A bomb squad unit is also on hand to deal with any possible explosive devices in the road

Gearing up: A bomb squad unit is also on hand to deal with any possible explosive devices in the bunker

Dykes was supposed to appear in court on Wednesday for a bench trial over a menacing charge.

Dykes’ neighbor, James Edward Davis Jr told the paper that the man pointed a gun at him and his daughter in December, saying that they had driven into his yard.

Another neighbor, Claudia Davis said he yelled and fired shots at her, her son and her baby grandson over damage Dykes claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.

A girl who was on the school bus when Dykes allegedly stormed it said he referred to his upcoming court case.

'He started talking about how he needed a kid because something about the law coming after him,' she told ABC News

A sign and crosses honoring the memory of bus driver Charles Poland is erected

A sign and crosses honoring the memory of bus driver Charles Poland is erected

Dykes' neighbors described him a violent, paranoid man. 

Ronda Wilbur, who lived across the road from Dykes, said he beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe for coming onto his side of the dirt road. The dog died a week later.

'He said his only regret was he didn't beat him to death all the way,' Wilbur said. She called animal control, who came out and talked to Dykes, but nothing else happened. 

'If a man can kill a dog, and beat it with a lead pipe and brag about it, it's nothing until it's going to be people.'

Neighbors say the bunker is about four feet wide, six feet long and eight feet deep and it's covered by several feet of sand. It was intended to be a bomb shelter.

Dykes, a Vietnam veteran, built it by hand. 

Heavily armed: These members of the State Police special operations team are geared up with body armor and assault weapons

Heavily armed: These members of the State Police special operations team are geared up with body armor and assault weapons

Rural: The standoff is taking place outside Midland City, Alabama, which is a rural town in the deep southeast of the state, near the Florida border

Rural: The standoff is taking place outside Midland City, Alabama, which is a rural town in the deep southeast of the state, near the Florida border

Cordoned off: Police set up check points and closed off roads all around the scene of the crime and the site where the boy was being held hostage

Cordoned off: Police set up check points and closed off roads all around the scene of the crime and the site where the boy was being held hostage

'It’s the craziest thing. He will be outside in his yard digging dirt at 2.30 in the morning,' Mr Davis told the Eagle.

He cut down all of the trees on his property, so he could see anyone who approached his house. He also ringed the boarder of his land in barbed wire.

Added Mr Creel: 'He’s the type that thinks the government’s out to get him. He’s not right in the head.'

The boy taken hostage had reportedly fainted on the bus - which is how Dykes was able to carry him away.

'I talked to a girl that was riding the bus, and she told me that he came on the bus and said, "I need two kids between the ages of 6 and 8,"' Michael Creel, Dykes' neighbor, told the Eagle. 'The driver told him, "I can’t do that." (The driver) tried to get away from the guy.'

Witness: This student said the gunman ranted about needing a 'child' to 'get the law off his back' - likely a reference to his court appearance that was scheduled for today

Witness: This student said the gunman ranted about needing a 'child' to 'get the law off his back' - likely a reference to his court appearance that was scheduled for today

Safe: Parents hugged their children tightly after the ordeal on the bus. Witnesses say the gunman was looking for a hostage because of his legal trouble

Safe: Parents hugged their children tightly after the ordeal on the bus. Witnesses say the gunman was looking for a hostage because of his legal trouble

Children on the bus said that the man who boarded the bus told most of the students to get off. They then said that the man shot the bus driver several times.

Authorities say the shooter took the child to an area behind nearby Destiny Church. WSFA reported that bomb squads were called to the scene, though there was no sign of explosive devices.

Residents in the immediate area were also evacuated as a precaution.

Midland City police would not comment, and a call to the Dale City Sheriff's office was not answered Tuesday.

However, it was reported that members of a SWAT team are communicating with the suspect in his bunker via a PVC pipe.

The shooting comes as the nation is on edge about gun violence, especially in schools, after a gunman shot dead 20 students and six staff members at a Connecticut elementary school last month, stoking a national debate on gun control.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2271325/Terrifying-ordeal-Alabama-boy-held-hostage-underground-bunker-Jimmy-Lee-Dykes.html#axzz2JnKXphjW

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