GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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February 4, 2013

Details emerge about man at center of Alabama standoff

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — As an Alabama standoff and hostage drama marked a sixth day yesterday, more details emerged about the suspect at the center, with neighbors and officials painting a picture of an isolated man estranged from his 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 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 buried yesterday.

Dykes, described as a loner who railed against the government, lives up a dirt road outside this tiny hamlet north of Dothan in the southeastern corner of the state.

The FBI said in a statement that authorities continue to have an open line of communication with Dykes. The little boy requested Cheez-Its and red Hot Wheels cars, and both were delivered to the bunker, FBI spokesman Jason Pack said. Authorities had said they also were delivering medicine and other comfort items, and that Dykes was making the child as comfortable as possible.

In the nearby community of Ozark yesterday, more than 500 people filed into the Civic Center to pay a final tribute to Poland. Outside the funeral, school buses from several counties lined the funeral procession route. The buses had black ribbons tied to their side mirrors.

Dykes grew up in the Dothan area. Mel Adams, a Midland City Council member who owns the lot where reporters are gathered, said he has known Dykes since they were ages 3 and 4. He said Dykes has a sister and a brother, but that he is estranged from his family.

Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper said Dykes’ sister is in a nursing home. Adams said that law enforcement officers have talked to Dykes’ family members and advised them not to speak with reporters, and that officers told his sister there was nothing she could do to help the child in the bunker.

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