MIDLAND CITY, Ala. – Authorities said Saturday that they still have an open line of communication with an Alabama man accused of abducting a 5-year-old boy and holding him hostage in a bunker, and they thanked the suspect for taking care of the child as the standoff marked its fifth day.
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.”
Authorities say Dykes fatally shot a school bus driver Tuesday, and then abducted the boy from the bus to the bunker on his property in rural Midland City.
Olson would not say whether Dykes has made any demands, adding that he is limited in the details he can release.
FBI spokesman Jason Pack said Saturday that officials were working to establish a command center near the bunker. Negotiators were still trying Saturday to persuade Dykes to surrender.
Neighbors described Dykes as a menacing figure with 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.