Update on Feb. 4 - He's Free! Ethan is reunited with his parents and apparently physically unharmed.
As far as the kidnapper goes - well, he won't be hurting any more people. Ever. He's in God's hands now.
I added this little boy to my prayers. Let's pray that this little boy is soon above ground, healthy, and reunited with his parents.
There are so many people to pray for, aren't there?
Police say 5-year-old boy taken hostage Tuesday afternoon after bus driver was shot dead has been crying for his parents but apparently is unharmed.
MIDLAND CITY, Ala. — Three days after being taken hostage in an underground bunker, a 5-year-old autistic child is receiving medicine, coloring books and food and is watching TV during a tedious standoff between police and the boy's captor, authorities report.
Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, is accused of snatching the boy off a school bus Tuesday afternoon after killing the driver.
Dykes, a retired truck driver whom neighbors described as paranoid and combative, took the boy into the bunker on his property in Midland City, in extreme southeastern Alabama. The bunker, built as protection from tornadoes, has electricity and, according to neighbors, enough food for several months.
Dale County authorities Friday released the first photo of Dykes. [I removed the photo of the kidnapper because I don't want his face on my blog.]
Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper, who has visited with the boy's parents, said on Thursday that the child, named Ethan, is "crying for his parents."
"They are holding up good," Skipper said. "They are praying and asking all of us to pray with them."
Republican state Rep. Steve Clouse, who represents the Midland City area, told the Associated Press that he visited the boy's mother Thursday and that she is "hanging on by a thread." [May our prayers give this mother a strong cable of hope.]
Clouse said the mother told him that the boy has Asperger's syndrome, an autism-like disorder, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
Dale County authorities have said that Ethan appeared to be in good condition and unharmed, despite the three-day-old ordeal.
Police have been communicating with Ethan and Dykes by way of a pipe from the bunker.
James Arrington, police chief of nearby Pinckard, said the bunker is 4 feet underground, is about 6 feet by 8 feet and has a 60-foot long PVC pipe coming out of it. [The kidnapper probably smells.]
"He will have to give up sooner or later because (authorities) are not leaving," Arrington said. "It's pretty small, but he's been known to stay in there eight days." [He's going to spend longer than eight days in a jail cell.]
The Dale County Sheriff's Office reports that Dykes is connected to the anti-government survivalist movement.
Arrington confirmed that assessment, saying, "He's against the government — starting with Obama on down."
"He doesn't like law enforcement or the government telling him what to do," the chief said. "He's just a loner."
A neighbor, Eben Rummell, says Dykes was known in the the area as "The Shovel Man" because he would chase people and animals off his property with a shovel if they got too close.
Sheriff's deputies had arrested Dykes on Dec. 22 and charged him with menacing for a Dec. 10 complaint, court records show. He spent four days in jail before posting the $500 bail.
His trial was to have begun Wednesday morning.
Instead, he is accused of grabbing the boy off the school bus and killing the 66-year-old bus driver, Charles Poland, who had tried to block access to the vehicle. [This makes me sad. The bus driver was just trying to do his job and keep the children safe.]
Patricia Smith, a neighbor whose two children were on the bus, said the gunman shot Poland four times.
Authorities have said they believe it was a "random kidnapping" from among more than 20 children on the bus.
Monday, Dykes boarded the bus and spoke briefly with Poland, next-door neighbor Kelly Miller told WSFA-TV. She said she does not know what the men spoke about.
Tuesday morning, hours before the killing and abduction, Poland gave Dykes a thank-you gift of eggs and marmalade for clearing off the driveway where the bus turned around, said Miller, whose two sons escaped the bus before the shooting.
After Poland left, Dykes gave the gift to Miller's father.
"Here. I don't want this," Miller quoted Dykes as saying.
Scott Johnson reports for the Montgomery Advertiser. Contributing: The Associated Press, Michael Winter.