- Five-year-old Ethan is talking and laughing with his mother as he spends a precautionary night in hospital
- Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, who allegedly stormed a school bus and took Ethan hostage for a week is dead
- FBI hostage teams used high-tech military surveillance equipment to monitor the survivalist
- Alabama State Senator Harri Anne Smith relieved for the rescue of Ethan and said ‘Mom has been incredible, she has been so brave and has always known her son would be brought home safe.’
- It is not known whether Dykes was killed by FBI agents or committed suicide
- The survivalist believed that aliens were being kept by the U.S. government, and they were threatening to take America’s weapons
Laura Collins In Midland City, Alabama and Thomas Durante
21:55, 4 February 2013
05:31, 5 February 2013
The five year old boy held captive in an underground bunker for seven days has been reunited with his mother. The emotional reunion came after FBI agents stormed the Alabama bunker in which the child had been held, leaving his survivalist captor dead.
Mugshot: Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, the suspect in the standoff, is believed to be dead
Ethan, the child at the heart of the Alabama kidnapping crisis, spent his first evening of freedom playing, eating, laughing and joking around with his favorite toy dinosaur.
The ordeal came to a dramatic conclusion as FBI agents believed the little boy to be in ‘imminent danger’ and breeched survivalist Jimmy Lee Dykes’s bunker.
Speaking this evening Sheriff Wally Olson, who has been on the site almost constantly since Ethan’s abduction and the shooting of school bus driver Mr Charles ‘Chuck’ Poland, said: ‘He’s a very special child who’s endured a lot and by the grace of God he’s okay.’
He added that, speaking as a parent himself, ‘It is a relief to reunite a mother with her child.’
That longed for reunion took place at Flowers Hospital, where Ethan was taken following his rescue. He arrived sitting up on a stretcher.
Steve Richardson, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the agency’s Mobile, Alabama Office said: ‘I have been to the hospital and he’s doing fine. He’s laughing, joking, eating..doing the things you would expect a normal five or six year old to do.’
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A photograph of ‘Ethan’ the five-year-old hostage who was rescued today in Midland City after a week-long ordeal at the hands of survivalist Jimmy Lee Dykes who died during the operation
Saved: The boy, known only as Ethan, is believed to be ok after he was rescued from the bunker by FBI agents
But the past few days of Ethan’s life and those of the many law enforcement officers and friends and family here in Midland City, Alabama, have been anything but normal.
The week-long standoff ended today in
Midland City, when negotiations with kidnapper Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65,
deteriorated and FBI hostage rescue teams felt they had no choice but to
forcibly enter the bunker on his property and take the boy known only
as Ethan safely out.
And though Ethan has now been returned to his family the investigation and the unravelling of what happened is only just beginning.
An independent team of investigators will be brought in from Washington, DC once the site is deemed clear and safe by the FBI’s bomb disposal experts.
Questions about the details of the evening’s climax to the crisis – whether the ‘booms’ heard were caused by explosives, diversions or stun grenades set off by the FBI in order to storm the bunker or whether they were the signs of imminent danger posed by Dykes remain unanswered.
Sheriff Olson would say only that a threat was perceived and that negotiations which had been ‘civil’ became ‘increasingly difficult over the past 24 hours.’
Asked if Dykes was armed when killed he responded in the affirmative.
Out in force: Police and emergency personnel, were stationed in the area 24/7, and raided the bunker over fears for the young boy’s safety
Working together: Law enforcement officials from the FBI, the Dale county Sheriff’s Office and the Alabama State Police all collaborated on the standoff
Alabama State Senator Harri Anne Smith who has been in close contact with the family throughout the ordeal and said to MailOnline, ‘Mom has been incredible, she has been so brave and has always known her son would be brought home safe.’
‘I know there will be lots of hugs and kisses tonight,’ said Senator Harri Anne Smith to the MailOnline.
‘For her there has only ever been one possible outcome.
The senator who spoke with Ethan’s mother shortly before she left to be reunited with her son continued: ‘She has been surrounded by people praying and has had a lot of support.
‘Her father has been a rock to her and her older son and her sisters.’
Authorities said were forced to act at 3.12 p.m. (CST) after concern for the suspect’s mental state grew as they witnessed him brandishing a gun and ultimately ‘fearing the child was in imminent danger.’
Dykes was killed during the fast-acting operation but law enforcement officials have yet to provide details on how he died.
Federal agents acted swiftly after high-tech but secret video surveillance inserted into the bunker revealed that the mental state of Richard Lee Dykes was deteriorating rapidly.
The boy identified only as Ethan was brought out from the bunker on Dykes property appearing to be physically unharmed and is being treated at a hospital in nearby Dothan authorities said.
Friends of the family have said that Ethan has Asperger’s Syndrome – a condition which has been likened to a minor form of autism and which affects a person’s ability to interact with other people.
Ready to go: These heavily-armed agents with the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team gear up with equipment delivered in a Budget rental truck
Moving out: The federal agents were always at the ready and prepared to storm the bunker where little Ethan was being held
FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Richardson said during a news conference this afternoon that negotiations had broken down and Dykes had been seen holding a gun.
Those actions forced the hand of FBI agents, who entered the bunker.
Agent Richardson said: ‘At approximately 3.12pm, FBI agents safely recovered the child who was being held hostage for nearly a week.
‘Within the past 24 hours negotiations deteriorated and Mr Dykes was observed holding a gun.
‘At this point FBI agents fearing the child was in imminent danger entered the bunker and rescued the child.
‘The child appears physically unharmed and is being treated at a local hospital. The subject is deceased.
‘The resolution of the matter is a direct result of the extraordinary collaboration of law enforcement at all levels.’
CBS correspondents John Miller and Bob Orr confirmed the FBI’s Rescue
Hostage Team carried out the rescue when it was clear the kidnapper’s
mental state was deteriorating — and he began brandishing a gun.
Stand-off: How police communicated with Dykes through a pipe into his bunker
Guarded: This is a glimpse of the property where Dykes was holed up in an underground bunker he had dug himself
FBI used a flash-bang to create a diversion before going in, and the
whole operation was over very quickly.
An official said that ‘seconds make all the difference’ in these types of rescues.
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The CBS reporters also said that Special Agent Bomb Technicians continue to clear the scene and
only after their work is done will Evidence Response Teams move into process
Richardson said an independent review team is on its way from Washington to investigate.
Authorities also wouldn’t comment on the explosion heard at around 3 p.m. that presumably was part of the raid into the bunker.
However, the blast apparently came from a ‘diversionary device,’ an FBI source
confirmed to NBC News. FBI officers then went through a door at the top
of the bunker.
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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 about four feet
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Speaking to MailOnline, son Aaron Poland responded to the news
simply saying, ‘My dad’s bus route is officially over.’
Eyes in the sky: Helicopters circled the sky around the bunker as the FBI closed in on Monday
In the days since his shooting Mr. Poland’s family have felt certain that the driver would watch over Ethan until he was safely home
As news of the resolution spread, cars passing by the site honked their horns in celebration. Though two men lie dead, Ethan – for whom this town has prayed – is safe and physically well.
‘The most important thing is we have a safe recovery of a child,’ said
Colonel Hugh McCall, director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
As of this evening though, officials have not yet provided details on how he died.
‘Right now, FBI special agent bomb technicians are in the process of
clearing the property for improvised explosive devices,’ the FBI said in
a written statement seen by ABC News.
‘When it is safe to do so, our evidence response
teams, paired with state and local crime scene technicians, will process
Eyes in the sky: A sheriff’s helicopter is seen stationed at the property of Jimmy Lee Sykes who was killed in a raid by FBI agents
Emergency: An ambulance that had been parked near the scene could be seen driving away, but it was not clear if anyone was inside
Heavily armed law enforcement officials confer after the week-long hostage crisis in Alabama ended with the rescue of the five-year-old boy who was being kept by 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes
Armed FBI officers walk down a dirt track on the property of Jimmy Lee Dykes – who has died after a stand-off with authorities ended with the rescue of the five-year-old boy he was holding hostage
Having rescued the boy – FBI officials prepare to depart the remote property in Midland City, Alabama
Alabama hostage crisis law enforcement officers gave repeated updates to the media over the course of the week – but asked for some of the information not to be printed to aid their negotiations
Tense: Sheriff Willy Olson tells the media today that they’re doing ‘everything humanly possible’ to bring an end to the stand off
Waiting game: Police and FBI at the Command Center in Midland City, Alabama, yesterday as they prepared to wait out the crisis as long as the five-year-old hostage was safe
Contact: Negotiators spoke to Dykes via a phone thrown down a PVC pipe connecting the outside world and the bunker
Over the past days the media had abided by the security force’s request not to report details of the agents’ movements so as not to tip off Dykes – who reportedly had access to television and the Internet in his bunker.
On Saturday the presence of FBI and hostage rescue teams was notably stepped up.
Several vans transporting equipment from the nearby airport made their way up the dirt track to the left of Dykes’s plot.
It was unclear if the equipment, which is not available to civilian law enforcement, had been used by the FBI.
What is Aspergers Syndrome? How was Ethan’s ability to interact impaired?
Aspergers syndrome is a form of autism which leaves sufferers fazed with significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
The result is that they can have difficulty coping with mixing socially, working in certain kinds of jobs and developing communication skills. They may have problems with coordinating movements making them appear clumsy.
Unlike autism there are no significant delays in language development, people have normal intellect and have normal abilities to help themselves. They can adapt to different situations providing these do not rely on social interaction.
Asperger’s syndrome appears to be more prevalent in males. It seems to start later than autism or at least is recognised later. Most children are diagnosed between five and nine years of age. There may be a close relative with a similar disorder.
Although speech development is not delayed there is a tendency to lapse into long detailed talk about topics which may not appear interesting to the listener.
Children with Asperger’s may be solitary and emotionally detached, unable to enjoy joining in ‘give and take’ games or group activities with other children.
Although they may appear on the surface to be imaginative and creative they may tend to become obsessed with one particular system of ideas, which may dominate their activities and thoughts for many months or years at a time.
If they are lucky this behaviour will simply be regarded as quirky eccentricities by peers. Unfortunately some children with Asperger’s syndrome can be mercilessly teased.
It is not easy to diagnose Asperger’s syndrome. Children may be wrongly diagnosed with other neurological disorders such a Tourette’s syndrome or autism.
officials said no members of the military were involved in the rescue.
They would have been acting a technical advisers, the official said to CNN.
Neighbours of Dykes had speculated to the media over the past week that the kidnapp was part of a plan to air certain greviances he had by gaining national prominence.
‘Based on our discussions he feels like he has a story that is important to him, although it’s very complex,’ said Sheriff Wally Olson of Dale County.
Among Dykes’s beliefs was that the government was harboring and hiding aliens that threatened to take America’s weapons.
Several loud booms were heard just after 3 p.m. local time.
Rural: The standoff occurred outside Midland City, Alabama, a rural town in the deep southeast of the state, near the Florida border
Neighbour Lyndsey White arrived on the scene carrying
six-year-old daughter Auden, her nine-year-old daughter Alexa by her side.
She told the MailOnline: ‘We live just beyond the trees. I heard a boom
that rattled our windows and a knock-knock-knock like a popping. I called my
dad and he said that’s gunfire.’
She added: ‘I’m just so glad the boy is safe. I can’t
imagine what she’s been going through day after day, his mother, not able to
put her baby to bed.’
As for Mr Dykes, she echoed the thoughts of many here
saying, ‘I find it hard. I’m a spiritual person. I pray for his soul –
something was obviously very wrong there.’
About 10 minutes after the second boom, an ambulance that had been parked near the bunker for the last few days was seen driving off with no sirens or lights on.
Some neighbors claimed this afternoon that they heard gunshots at about the same time as the booms, but those reports have not yet been confirmed.
A law enforcement source said a stun or flash grenade was detonated as part of the operation to free the boy, but further details were not immediately available.
The reports came just hours after security forces said they were prepared to let the standoff run.
Scene: The boy was rescued by FBI agents seven days after he was taken into an underground bunker by the gunman
Law enforcement personnel station themselves on the property of Jimmy Lee Sykes today after they stormed a bunker in Alabama to rescue 5-year-old Ethan who was being held hostage
Officials say they stormed a bunker in Alabama to rescue a 5-year-old child being held hostage there after Sykes, his abductor, was seen with a gun
MailOnline has learned that Sykes had continued to demand ‘4 minutes on all major networks’ to tell his story.
The boy was reportedly taken to nearby Flowers Hospital, about six miles away, but is not believed to be injured.
Ethan is going to be six years old on Wednesday.
In the days since Ethan’s abduction MailOnline has learned that his family have spent their days at Midland Retirement Center.
Loss: Family of Charles Poland, 66, the school bus driver gunned down by Dykes, mourn at his funeral on Sunday
Hero: Bus driver Charles Poland Jr, left, was shot while trying to prevent Dykes, right, from hurting any children
Remembering: A sign honoring bus driver Chuck Poland is posted to a tree in front of City Hall in Midland City ahead of his funeral which was held on Sunday
Friends and family in tears at the funeral on Sunday – stunned by Poland’s shocking death
School bus: Last week law enforcement officials remove the bus that Charles Poland Jr was driving when he was fatally shot just outside Midland City, Alabama
They have spent their nights in different hotels, limping from day to day, waiting for the moment that finally came today.
Dykes, a retired Alabama trucker, has been described by those who knew him in Midland City as being a violent and paranoid man.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
issued a statement detailing his relief at the resolution of the hostage
crisis this afternoon in Midland City.
thanked law enforcement agents for their efforts and explained that
they had ‘breached the bunker, the child was safe and the abductor was
‘I am thankful
that the child who was abducted is now safe. I am so happy this little
boy can now be reunited with his family and friends,’ said Governor
Prayers: The deeply religious community united in prayer over the week for a peaceful outcome to the stand-off
‘We will all continue to pray for the little boy and his family as they recover from the trauma of the last several days.
‘At the same time, we also want to remember the family and friends of the bus driver – Charles Poland, Junior.
man was a true hero who was willing to give up his life so others might
live. We are all inspired by his courage and bravery.’
Melissa Nighton, city clerk in Midland City, said a woman had been
praying in the town center Monday afternoon. Not long after, the mayor
called 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 to Fox News.
The pastor of the church, Michael Senn, who has welcomed reporters since the standoff began, said he was relieved.
So when I heard that he was OK, it was just like a thousand pounds lifted off of me,’ he said.
Long wait: Police say Jimmy Lee Dykes likely had supplies in his shelter to last weeks or months. He had previously spent eight days in the bunker
Dykes, described by his neighbors as a paranoid survivalist, grabbed the
boy from a school bus in Midland City, Alabama, just after 3:30 p.m. Central Time
And on Sunday, more than 500 people paid final tribute to the driver that
was killed, 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland Jr., hailing him as a hero
for protecting the other children on the bus.
that funeral, Latoshia Reeves supported her daughter, Kimberley, 12, at
the funeral of Poland, who has been described as a hero for trying to
stop Dykes abducting five-year-old Ethan.
Today she reacted with delight at news of Ethan’s safe relief though expressed sadness that Mr Dykes had not survived.
said: ‘It’s just so sad – I’m glad that Ethan is safe and Kimberly is
so happy he will be home for his birthday but Mr Dykes could have come
out safe too.’
funeral service, the bus driver was described as ‘an angel who is
watching over,’ the little boy saiid Dale County School Superintendent
Donny Bynum – as he read three letters from students who had been driven
‘You didn’t deserve to die but you died knowing you kept everyone safe,’ one child wrote.
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 the day before the successful raid.
Authorities said they were also delivering
medicine and other comfort items, and that Dykes had been making the
child as comfortable as possible.
Gathered: The world’s media surrounded the scene of the shooting and hostage taking in Alabama
Mission: Before today’s resolution Law enforcement officials worked the scene of the hostage crisis to try and encourage Dykes to release Ethan peacefully
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 had 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.
records and interviews with neighbors indicate that Dykes joined the
Navy in Midland City, serving on active duty from 1964 to 1969.
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
Community hopes: A sign of support was put up and flags flew at half staff in Newton, near Midland City, Alabama last week in solidarity for the hostage situation
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
Vigil: Mileah Lomaneck and Whitley Riley light candles during a candlelight vigil honoring bus driver Poland as they prayed for a peaceful end to the hostage situation over the weekend
His neighbor Michael Creel said Dykes had an adult daughter, but the two lost touch years ago.
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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Good work by law enforcement and all others involved.
This does not compute correctly, something isn’t being told.
– Common Sense, US, 2/5/13, 4:52 AM
What more do you want to know?? Who cares if this guy wanted to talk to a reporter….did you miss the part where he killed an innocent bus driver and kidnapped a child? He deserves exactly what he got.
Good job but what a waste of taxpayer money.- JustSayin , US, 05/2/2013 04:17 How? How is this a waste of taxpayer money? The one guy who saved a kid was a waste of taxpayer money? All of the other individuals who were in full combat gear (look it up), on alert, were there for looks? Put down your beer, crawl off your mother’s couch, put on a uniform.
Why is there a description of Asperger’s in the middle of this? Are you going to blame this condition for the boy being taken now? You blame it for everything else.
Cloudland, United Kingdom,
Great that the boy is reunited with his family unharmed.
BUT…They stormed the bunker of a man they thought was going to kill a child, but he didn’t, even when they attacked, he didn’t. All he asked was to speak to a reporter, they refused and instead attacked. This does not compute correctly, something isn’t being told.
Thank God, so glad Ethan is safe and with his family.
I don’t consider this a waste of taxpayers $. One of the few reasons I would gladly give more is to fund such operations. The kid is out and safe, the paranoid old guy dead, all w/ absolutely no injury or death to any local, state or federal law enforcement. Sounds like a success to me.
If we don’t “waste” taxpayer $ on this then what? Trust me when I say, not a day goes by that officials and politicians waste are money on some of the most frivolous and unnecessary things, but rescuing an innocent 5 yo from the arms of a mentally disturbed adult is not one of them.
What a joyous outcome! I can only imagine the terror Ethan felt being away from his loved ones. My 9yr old has Asperger’s and panics if I don’t respond to him immediately while in another room in our house.
JaxFL, United States,
Good job but what a waste of taxpayer money.
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