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. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    No freedom of speech here. I keep getting rejected.

    February 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ronvan

    GUN CONTROL VS CRAZY? YES absolutly great that this young boy is OK. HOWEVER, the other side of this story, about the "nut" job that killed an innocent bus driver and took the boy, goes to the other problem related to the guns issue. WHY was this guy NOT taken into custody and MADE to go through some mental evaluations? OH, I forget, WE can't do that because of his "rights"! For me, the problem is not gun control, mental status, etc., it is ALL about "OUR RIGHTS". Far to many yelling and screaming that their rights are being violated, taken away, you name it!
    Until we get our "bought off" politicans, lobbyists, special interest groups, so many "do gooder" groups you can't name all of them, and regain our common sense, integrity, and a plan to help ALL OF US, then nothing is going to change!

    February 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • zwood

      You blame "do gooders" for protecting people's rights but it is the far right that always complains about government violating their rights. I am sure that if the police went around rounding up people for mental evaluations the far right (and far left) and most people in between would object.

      February 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Master of sparks

      I wonder if he might have killed himself? They haven't said yet how it all went down, just that he was dead. Either way good riddance.

      February 5, 2013 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Moose

      So what's YOUR plan? As long as there are guns, people will shoot them. People will hide them. People will hunt. Forget about it. Nothing can be done.

      February 5, 2013 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. chillipepper

    Do to polictical correctness the law lets crazy people like this live among us. Also the drugs they give kids to make them behave make them crazy. Another reason Crime is very high is because the law lets out habitual career criminals with mile long rap sheet out on a revolving door.

    February 4, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • zwood

      Are willing to pay more taxes to keep these types in prison?? Or, to pay for more mental hospitals?? Felons are being let out all of the time because of jail overcrowding and keeping these prisons running takes money from other possibilities as mental health facilities. If you want to lock everyone up longer than they are you need to be willing to pay for it. Incarceration is extremely expensive.

      February 4, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • b4bigbang

      Regarding chillipepper's 3 reasons:
      1) Yup
      That's about the size of it.

      February 5, 2013 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Angela Birch

      Crime is the lowest it has been since the 1960s.

      February 5, 2013 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I am elated that these good men did such a wonderful job of bringing this child back to safety and the love of his family.
    I agree with the comments of @ Chris beginning at 6:18.

    February 4, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rascal Rabble

    thank the Lord that tragedy is over...that little boy has seen too much too soon...he will need some spiritual counseling and much loving reassurance from his parents. please remember the bus driver and his family on prayers...so sad, if the perp had only chosen life everyone would still be here including him...it should be an easy decision to make...choosing life.

    February 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanity"

    "Dis Jus In"
    5 Year Old Questions President Why It Took 7 Days To Get To Him

    February 4, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lynda

    Funny know one mentioned the bus driver who died a hero trying to protect this child, so glad the little guy is with his Momma

    February 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      The bus driver and his act of heroism has been mentioned daily.

      February 4, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brenda

    I am so thankful this baby is well, and back with his mother. Answered prayers! I will sleep tonight.

    February 4, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. great job

    As curious as I am, I am happy to hear that they are not divulging the details of this operation. Please, media folks, do not try to get this info and publish it. If it were my child in a similar situation, I would want the FBI to have all the secrets and the advantage in every way possible. Great job, all involved.

    February 4, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hans

      WikiLeaks will want to get this information on how they got this guy out as the "evil government" is trying to hide something from you.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sirned

    The free market sells fear and anti Government propaganda for profit and control on right wing radio. Fueling a low information voter into acting on the fears he believes to be true after hearing paranoia driven drivel daily. And to the rescue comes those evil Union members from the Fed to the State police to save the 5 year old. And Rush just got richer today....What's wrong with this picture...

    February 4, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hans

    John Lubeck: I am in the NRA and you know nothing about what you say. The NRA has pushed the government to use mental health info on NIC checks for a long time. The ACLU and other groups have protected the mentally ill, NOT the NRA. Stop blaming innocent folks like myself who did nothing. Recently the NRA directly confronted Joey Biden about why the government didn't go after the folks who illegally tried to buy firearms (as found by the NIC checks we currently use). 99% of the violations are not pursued. Joey Biden said, "The government doesn't have time to pursue those people". The NRA is not the law enforcer or maker, your elected officials are responsible for this.

    February 5, 2013 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. patricia

    its good that the man is taking care of the child

    February 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Big Reggie

    It is a great thing that after many days the boy is safely home.

    February 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
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