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Alabama Hostage Situation Ends, Boy, is safe, Kidnapper Dead

By: CBS News/ Associated Press Email
By: CBS News/ Associated Press Email

(CBS/AP) MIDLAND CITY, Ala. - Officials say they stormed a bunker in Alabama and rescued a 5-year-old boy being held hostage there after his abductor was seen with a gun.

Steve Richardson with the FBI's office in Mobile said at a news conference Monday afternoon that negotiations deteriorated with 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, and officers believed the child was in imminent danger.

Officers entered the bunker just after 3 p.m. CST.

Earlier, a U.S. official told CBS News that the nearly week-long hostage standoff had ended in the kidnapper's death. Authorities did not disclose details of how Dykes died.

Authorities said Dykes gunned down school bus driver Charles Poland Jr., 66, before taking his hostage. Poland was buried Sunday.

The FBI said in a statement Sunday that the kidnapped boy had requested Cheez-Its and a red Hot Wheels car, both of which were delivered to the bunker. Authorities said they were also delivering medicine and other comfort items, and that Dykes had been 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 officershad 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.

According to 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 stored tools and supplies.
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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