Officials: Boy safe, captor dead after Ala. standoff ends
By The Associated Press
Published: Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, 5:31 p.m.
MIDLAND CITY, Ala. — Officers stormed an underground bunker in Alabama where a 5-year-old boy had been held hostage for nearly a week, rescuing the child and leaving the boy's abductor dead, officials said Monday.
Steve Richardson with the FBI's office in Mobile said at a news conference Monday afternoon that negotiations had deteriorated with 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes. Dykes, who a week earlier had abducted the child from a school bus after fatally shooting the driver, had been seen with a gun. Officers believed the boy was in imminent danger, Richardson said.
Officers stormed the bunker just after 3 p.m. CST to rescue the child, who was taken to a hospital in nearby Dothan. Officials have said the child has Asperger's syndrome.
However, it was not immediately clear how Dykes died.
Daryle Hendry, who lives about a quarter-mile from where Dykes' bunker was located, said he heard a boom Monday afternoon, followed by what sounded like a gunshot, all around the time officials said they stormed the bunker.
Melissa Nighton, the city clerk in Midland City, said a woman had been praying in the town center Monday afternoon. Not long after, the mayor called her with news that Dykes was dead and that the boy was safe.
"She must have had a direct line to God because shortly after she left, they heard the news," Nighton said.
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.
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. During his service, Dykes was trained in aviation maintenance.
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, moving onto the rural tract about 100 yards from his nearest neighbors.
Ronda Wilbur, a neighbor of Dykes who said the man beat her dog to death last year with a pipe, said she was relieved to be done with the stress of knowing Dykes was patrolling his yard and willing to shoot at anyone or anything that trespassed.
"The nightmare is over. It's been a long couple of years of having constant stress," she said.
Authorities have said Dykes gunned down 66-year-old bus driver Albert Poland Jr. before taking the boy from the bus. Poland, who was buried Sunday, has been hailed as a hero for protecting the other nearly two-dozen children on board from harm.
"This man was a true hero who was willing to give up his life so others might live," Gov. Robert Bentley said in a news release Monday after learning of the boy's rescue.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Satanists want to build monument
- Negotiators polish cease-fire budget proposal
- 44,000 Cuban migrants arrive in U.S. in fiscal year ’13
- U.S. apple growers eye open trade with China
- Mid-Atlantic storm makes driving hazardous
- Gun permit tiff puts officials’ jobs in danger
- Seizure of nuns fuels Syrian Christians’ fears
- Maine WCTU chapter takes low-key approach to abstinence
- New camouflage Army uniform nowhere to be seen
- Former Boston crime boss Bulger’s jewelry, clothes could go to auction
- New York City commuter train derailment kills 4, hurts more than 60