February 4th, 2013
10:30 PM ET

Officials: Rescued 5-year-old is 'laughing, joking, playing, eating'

A 5-year-old boy held hostage nearly a week is safe and the Alabama man who held him hostage is dead, law enforcement officials say.

[Update 10:30 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama called FBI Director Robert Mueller to compliment him for the role federal law enforcement officers played in resolving the hostage situation in Alabama today, a White House official told CNN. "The president praised the exceptional coordination between state, local, and federal partners, and thanked all the law enforcement officials involved during the nearly week-long ordeal for their roles in the successful rescue of the child."

[Update 10:17 p.m. ET] Law enforcement officials in Alabama expressed gratitude and relief at the successful conclusion of the week-long hostage ordeal in Midland City.

At a 9 p.m. news conference, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said getting the 5-year-old hostage out alive was the goal of everyone on the scene.

"This is a very special child," Olson said. "He's been through a lot, (and) by the grace of God he's OK. ...

"I'm a father, a lot of these men and women that's been sacrificing tireless hours, they're parents as well. It's a relief to be able to reunite mother and child."

The boy, whose name is Ethan, is with his mother at a local hospital, said Steve Richardson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Mobile regional office.

"Ethan is laughing, joking, playing, eating - the things you would expect a normal 5-year-old child to do," Richardson said.

The officials refused to divulge any details of the rescue operation, saying they expect to need to employ the same tactics in another situation someday in the future.

Olson said officials believed Ethan was in danger.

"That's why we went in - to save the child," he said.

[Update 5:46 p.m. ET]

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley issued the following statement:

"Shortly after 3 p.m., I spoke with Col. Hugh McCall of the Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier.  They informed me that law enforcement had breached the bunker, the child was safe and the abductor was killed.

"I want to thank the law enforcement, first responders and all additional personnel who worked tireless hours to bring this situation to a resolution.  They performed heroic efforts, and they should be praised for how they handled themselves in a professional manner.

"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.  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, Jr.  This 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.

"I ask everyone across the state - and the nation - to continue to lift up these families and the entire Midland City community in your prayers."

[Earlier updates] Steve Richardson, the FBI's special agent in charge of the local office, said at a brief news conference that negotiations with Jimmy Lee Dykes had "deteriorated" during the past 24 hours, and that Dykes had been observed holding a gun.

At 3:12 p.m. CT, FBI agents entered the bunker and safely recovered the young hostage, Richardson said.

He said Dykes was dead and the child appeared to be physically unharmed. He did not say how Dykes died.

Richardson and other law enforcement officials declined to answer any questions.

The abducted boy, whose name is Ethan, has been taken to a hospital about eight miles from the place where he had been held hostage, Alabama Rep. Steve Clouse told CNN.

"Finally, this nightmare has come to an end," he said.

A neighbor of Dykes' said Monday he heard it end.

"I heard a big boom and then I heard, I believe I heard, rifle shots," Byron Martin told CNN. "Literally made me jump off the ground."

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Filed under: Alabama • Crime • U.S.
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Robert

    WOOT!!! TY FBI and team for doing such a wonderful job of getting this kid back safe <3

    February 4, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Ch Robertsristy

    Praise be to God!! I am so glad that Ethan has been rescued. Lets all pray for Ethan and his family. Pray for the emotional and mental scars to heal.

    February 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      "Praise be to God"...What are you tlaking about? You think "God" had something to do with the child's safe release? If "God" made for his release, "God" also made for the fact he was adbucted in the first place. If God has the power to fix things, he certainly created the mess in the first place.

      A nice job this "God" character has....he gets all the credit when things go well but no-one seems to blame him for the fact that things so often go so wrong.

      Those that believe in God should start by admonishing him for the pain he inflicts on millions every day.

      The idea of a God can be comforting when we hurt. But when we seek that comfort we're living in a fairytale concoted when people believed the earth was flat and that you could sail off the cliff of the ocean into a land of monsters. Fairytales that existed because science had not yet provided an explanation. Same wih "God".

      February 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sheppard

      Good grief, Chris – why are you so defensive about the beliefs of someone else? What does it have to do with your life? Why can't you just pass over those comments when you see where they are going and get on with your own life. Very childish.

      February 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Sheppard – You know what? You are right. This was not the time for me to make a point about religion.

      My anger is due to the fact that I believe that so much of the evil we allow to happen in this world is because of religion. And it sickens me when people allow their belief in religion to create a smokescreen for hate and inequality.

      But you are correct that I picked the wrong time and place, so I apologize for that. Peace.

      February 4, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Claud

      Chris – that was a stand-up reply to Sheppard. It is so refreshing to see someone respond so maturely...good on you!

      As for the little boy, I'm absolutely thrilled he made it out alive. I'm sure he will need a lot of help to get over this, but at least he will have the opportunity.

      Glad this nut won't make it to a trial, I'm tired of seeing these deranged maniacs getting exactly what they are after...the spotlight. Let's not mention his name or show his pic ever again.

      Job well done to the cops. They kept the media out of it, and focused on what's best for the victim.

      February 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Noah

      Thank you, Chris. I think you picked a fine moment to express yourself, and you did that with clarity and sanity.

      February 4, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Holly

    I am SO thankful to law enforcement. I have thought about this boy constantly during the last week and felt so worried for him every night when our family would go to bed, knowing he was still trapped down there by this crazy man. I've also thought about the law enforcement officers handling this case and worried for them - I am sure they barely slept or ate the entire week with worry of getting this boy out safely. I would like to thank them for being so tight-lipped to reporters during the whole ordeal. Very professional.

    February 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. shellback2

    haha

    February 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jon Parker

    The live report said they "saw he had a gun" how did they 'see'?

    February 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. AmmoPapa

    "Big Boom" = Flash Bang Grenades

    February 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. becca

    Turns out this guy was never in Viet Nam?? Clerical work in Japan, and the buzz was he probably had PTSD?? No, not so much. Just an avid listener of "Conservative" Talk Radio. I saved that article with the quote from a neighbor who had been given a tour of the bunker? Glad he's dead. Overjoyed that the innocent child is alive. Too sad that he beat that other neighbor's dog, and he died shortly after that. Sick man who fed his head a steady diet of H-A-T-E.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. anne

    May the bus driver R.I.P. my CONDOLENCES TO HIS FAMILY. As far as the nut with the gun is concerned, the state of Alabama needs to review their laws. They charged him with a misdemeanor for brandishing a gun previously and threatening 2 other people. Why was he not charged with a FELONY at the time??? He also KILLED A DOG with a metal pipe, why wasn't he charged with a crime???? All of this anguish could have been avoided if this mental case would have been dealt with appropriately.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • touche

      So, as I think about this whole situation...was the bus dropping this little boy off, or picking him up? Either way, he was 5 years old. Where were his parents, or some other adult? Why were there no other adults around who could have seen this crazy dude and done something?

      February 4, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. becca

    He did not serve in Nam. He did listen to a steady diet of "con" talk radio. Feed your head hate, you become hate. Glad that little innocent child is alive. Too bad about the dog, too.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. anne

    The Sheriff's dept. in that town could have avoided all of this, this man had a history of severe mental problems. They should have gone after him after he threatened people with a gun and killed a dog with a pipe. Alabama needs to get their act together.

    Thank God I don't live in such a backwards state.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      Anne, I live in a progressive northern state myself (as it sounds you do as well), but what you just said ("Thank God I don't live in such a backwards state") is idiotic. Like deranged people don't kill elsewhere? Did you forget Sandy Hook already?

      February 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jiminy Christmas

    Thanks be to god for waiting 7 days to free that innocent child and killing the evil doer!

    February 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. clift charels

    Dykes made the call.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. ronvan

    GOOD VS EVIL: PRO RELIGION – ATHEIST! Get a grip! It has been ongoing throughout "everyones" history The "good" is that this young boy is OK! DO have to agree that in this case, and many others, it is pretty obvious that this person should have been investigated and put under some mental care, but once again they dropped the ball! And don't think that it is just in the south! It is happening all over our country!

    February 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    Good to know that the young 5 year old hostage is safe again. Praise the Lord for that. Had Jimmy Lee Dykes used a lead pipe or a baseball bat to keep the young hostage at bay, this story probably would of never surfaced. As a matter of fact if a "private" gun owner put Jimmy Lee Dykes down, they would of been brought up on vigilante and murder charges. It is what it is folks.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    If a private gun owner put Dykes down, they would of been charged with vigilanteism and muder. 7 days?

    February 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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