Jimmy Lee Dykes Thanked By Sheriff For Caring For Hostage, Situation Still Going After 5 Days

Authorities said Saturday that Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old retired truck driver and Vietnam war veteran, is still holding hostage in a homemade bunker a child kidnapped from a school bus 5 days ago.

Dykes assaulted a school bus and killed driver Charles Albert Poland, 65, in Midland City, Alabama on Tuesday around 3:30 PM. He took a 5-year-old student from the bus and has been holding him hostage in a homemade bunker since the incident began.

Authorities said Dykes has allowed officials to deliver coloring books, medication and toys to the boy.

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

Olson is limited in what information he can release and would not say whether Dykes has made any demands.

One neighbor, Michael Creel, says that Dykes constructed the bunker, which is buried 4 feet underground, over a period of two to three months using lumber and plywood.

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

Creel believes Dykes' goal is to garner publicity for his paranoid 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."

A former hostage negotiator said that it would be ill-advised to take dramatic measures such as cutting the electricity to the bunker or flood it with sleeping gas.

Instead, they should "want to give him a reason to come out," said Clint Van Zandt.

State Rep. Mike Ball of Huntsville, who spent 15 years as a hostage negotiator with an Alabama law enforcement agency, said that the key to freeing the hostage was building a relationship with Dykes.

"They want to build a relationship with him and calm down the feeling of hopelessness he has," he said. "Any day that goes by with the child alive is a victory. If you string enough of those days together, he will come out."

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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