MIDLAND CITY, Ala. — As an Alabama standoff and hostage drama marked a sixth day Sunday, more details emerged about the suspect at the center, with neighbors and officials painting a picture of an isolated man with few friends and no close family.
Authorities say Jim Lee Dykes, 65 — a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War known as Jimmy to neighbors — gunned down a school bus driver and then abducted a 5-year-old boy from the bus, taking him to an underground bunker on his rural property. The driver, 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland Jr., was to be buried Sunday.
Dykes, described as a loner who railed against the government, lives up a dirt road outside this tiny hamlet north of Dothan in the southeast corner of the state. His home is just off the main road north to the state capital of Montgomery, about 80 miles away.
The FBI said in a statement Sunday that authorities continue to have an open line of communication with Dykes and that they planned to deliver to the bunker additional comfort items such as food, toys and medicine. They also said Dykes was making the child as comfortable as possible.
Government records and interviews with neighbors indicate that Dykes grew up in the Dothan area and joined the Navy in Midland City, serving on active duty from 1964 to 1969. Later, Dykes lived in Florida, where he worked as a surveyor and a long-haul truck driver. He returned to Alabama about two years ago, moving onto the rural tract about 100 yards from his nearest neighbors, Michael Creel and his father, Greg.
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. Michael Creel said Dykes had an adult daughter, but the two lost touch years ago.
Michael Creel said Dykes kept to himself and listened to a lot of conservative talk radio.
“He was very into what’s going on with the nation and the politics and all the laws being made. The things he didn’t agree with, he would ventilate,” he said.
James Arrington, police chief of the neighboring town of Pinckard, put it differently.
“He’s against the government, starting with Obama on down,” he said.