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Alabama abduction: Sheriff thanks man for ‘taking care of our child’

An Alabama state trooper is surrounded by reporters after a news conference in Midland City, Ala. Authorities said they still have an open line of communication with an Alabama man accused of abducting a 5-year-old child and holding him hostage in a bunker since Tuesday.
(Joe Songer / al.com/Associated Pressr)

As an Alabama boy spent his fifth day holed up in an underground bunker with his kidnapper, authorities thanked the man Saturday for caring for the child but remained tight-lipped about whether he had made any demands.

Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said negotiators were in “constant contact” with the kidnapping suspect, believed to be 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, whom neighbors characterized as menacing and prone to violent outbursts. One neighbor said Dykes bludgeoned her dog to death with a lead pipe after it roamed onto his property.

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Speaking through a 4-inch ventilation pipe, Dykes told negotiators he has electric heaters and blankets in the bunker, Olson said.

Authorities also provided coloring books, toys and medication for the boy, believed to be 5 years old and identified by neighbors as Ethan. He is said to have Asperger’s syndrome and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“I want to thank him for taking care of our child,” Olson said in a televised news conference Saturday. “That’s very important.”

Olson declined to answer a reporter’s question about whether Dykes had made any demands.

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The hostage situation began Tuedsay afternoon, authorites said, when a gunman snatched Ethan from a school bus after shooting and killing the driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr.

Dykes’ neighbor Michael Creel told the Associated Press he suspected the standoff was a way to make a political statement. “I believe he wants to rant and rave about politics and government. He’s very concerned about his property. He doesn’t want his stuff messed with,” Creel said.

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marisa.gerber@latimes.com

Twitter: @marisagerber


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