Alabama school bus kidnapping ends with release of little boy and death of assailant

Kudos to the FBI hostage team and police officers who freed the Alabama 5-year-old this afternoon from the gunman who killed a bus driver and kidnapped the child off a school bus a week ago.

I am thrilled the boy will celebrate this 6th birthday Wednesday at home with his family.

Kidnapper Jim Lee Dykes, 65, is dead. He was keeping the 5-year-old in an underground bunker on his rural property for reasons that are still unclear.

Now that this horror story has ended, can someone explain how a man who reportedly shot at his neighbors and beat a dog to death with a lead pipe was not in jail? It sounds like the people who lived around Dykes were in terror for their lives.

The AJC reported: 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. Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court {last}Wednesday to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump.

I want to note the bravery of slain bus driver Charles Albert Poland, Jr.  He is another example — and we have had far too many lately — of school employees losing their lives attempting to protect the children in their charge.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

26 comments Add your comment

mountain man

February 4th, 2013
6:21 pm

“Now that this horror story has ended, can someone explain how a man who reportedly shot at his neighbors and beat a dog to death with a lead pipe was not in jail?”

I agree 100%. Was he arrested for shooting at the people? If so, was he granted bond? This is why no one has any belief in our criminal justice system.

Just A Teacher

February 4th, 2013
6:32 pm

I have no idea why this man wasn’t incarcerated. A better question would be, “What was this man doing with a gun?” It would seem to me that, if you shot at your neighbors, somebody would take your gun away from you. A little common sense could have saved everyone in that town a lot of heartache.

South Georgia Administrator

February 4th, 2013
7:09 pm

Congratulations to the hostage team.

Grayson Mom

February 4th, 2013
7:12 pm

The guy probably had a great lawyer that convinced a judge he was just a regular dude that would never harm even a fly.


February 4th, 2013
7:19 pm

GOOD! Rot in hell you monster.

Mary Elizabeth

February 4th, 2013
7:40 pm

I suspect mental illness with the kidnapper. It is a blessing that the young boy is alive. The FBI agents and/or the police who entered the kidnapper’s underground bunker were courageous beyond words.

Mary Elizabeth

February 4th, 2013
8:15 pm

And, Charles Albert Poland, Jr., the bus driver who was killed while protecting the children under his care, was an American hero.

A reader

February 4th, 2013
8:25 pm

I am so relieved that little Ethan was apparently not physically harmed. I hope that he is able to quickly heal mentally and emotionally. I am so glad he has been reunited with his family.

” It would seem to me that, if you shot at your neighbors, somebody would take your gun away”

What country do you think you are living in? Because of the NRA no one can be denied the “right” to a gun no matter how disturbed they are. Hell, he can say he was just “standing his ground”.

South Georgia Retired Educator

February 4th, 2013
8:26 pm

Yes, he was obviously mentally disturbed, and had been for some time. Since public school teachers, bus drivers, principals, etc. are given the task of educating and protecting our children from the time they get on the bus in early morning until they are dropped off at home after school, we need to recognize these school folks more often and say “thank you” when we see them. And our politicians should also offer support and graditude and quit making them scapegoats.


February 4th, 2013
8:28 pm

Thank goodness the child is ok. The offender got off easy, he should have suffered a long painful death.


February 4th, 2013
8:49 pm

We live in a country that can take your guns away when given reason. I live in Kentucky where they claim that we are backwoods and stupid yet our police will come to your house and remove all firearms when given reason, like shooting at neighbors. The “stand your ground” law was written for good reason and some people need to look up why we have that law. The NRA is here to protect our right to own firearms by law abiding citizens, not crazy, derranged criminals.


February 4th, 2013
9:33 pm

can explain why he wasn’t in jail. Because our justice/judicial system fails the American public over & over & over again. I’m sure many of your news stories up in Atlanta look similar to ours. Someone is arrested for a serious crime like murder and the narrative almost inevitably notes prior arrests for violence and/or firearm violations. Prior crimes that resulted in the offender being given a slap on the wrist. We see it all of the time. I just read a story about some gangbanger in Jacksonville that shot five people in a drive-by. He had been in prison for armed burglary, got out after a short time, within a month was arrested for firearm possession by a felon, did 30 days in county jail, then got out and shot the five people at a party.

A big reason this persists is because these dangerous criminals don’t cycle back into the neighborhoods populated by politicians, judges & other well-heeled citizens. It’s the same reason that problems in public schools go unaddressed. It doesn’t affect the lives of those that administer the systems.

This judicial failure is also a huge part of why our country can’t implement sensible firearm legislation. Because no one trusts that our government can properly implement it anyway. The ‘gun nuts’ are right about that. What’s the point of more laws when our ‘leaders’ can’t deal with the ones we have now?

My solution is so practical that it has absolutely no chance of being pursued. End the war on drugs, empty our jails of all non-violent drug offenders and then change sentencing guidelines for those convicted of violent crimes and firearm violations going forward. Make them mandatory-minimum sentences that run for decades. How many people will use a firearm to commit a crime if the minimum is 40 years? How many felons will pick up a gun if the minimum possession charge is 20+ years? Even if they are dumb enough to still do it, society will be much safer in the long run and they won’t be around to corrupt succeeding generations and/or become dead beat dads.

Old timer

February 4th, 2013
10:50 pm

Good job…cops…..another onembitesmthe dust?..


February 4th, 2013
11:42 pm

We must remember that while this man was mentally ill the mentally ill are not the only ones that should be refused a gun. And not all mentally ill people are dangerous. We should be very careful how we classify mental illness because so many are fine unstanding people. It was clear from this mans past he was crazy, mean and well stupid. But do not lump everyone with a mental disorder together. There are many people that are just mean and not mentally ill.

bootney farnsworth

February 5th, 2013
12:23 am

poses several questions why this guy wasn’t at least in treatment, if not jail. that kind of violence points directly to a very sick man.

at some point this society is gonna have to deal with the stigma of mental illness.


February 5th, 2013
3:31 am

Another case where a mentally disturbed person who had people well aware of this, and who had threatened with a gun. WHY?? Were his guns not taken away from him since he was scheduled to appear in court for threatening with a gun??!!

Dr. Proud Black Man

February 5th, 2013
8:53 am

“Violence is as American as cherry pie.”


February 5th, 2013
9:18 am

The bus driver’s family no doubt needs money to live. Has a fund been established with easy paypal donation, etc?? for the family.

Mary Elizabeth

February 5th, 2013
10:29 am

@ Anna, 11:42 pm, Feb. 4th

Your comments are wise and true. Thank you for stating them. We must never think of others in generalized stereotypes, of any type. Each person is unique. Only a qualified psychiatrist could determine the kidnappers’ specific mental condition, and how much of his “meaness” could be attributed to mental illness, although he obviously was mentally ill because he has been described in the media as having had a history of mental illness.

Donna Kryszczak

February 5th, 2013
12:43 pm

Thank God. Whatever law enforcement agency calling the shots should be commended. Cool headed thinking in the face of this emotionally charged situation was what eventually won the day. In the midst of growing calls from the start to do “something” in the end they prevailed. God bless the people who brought this little guy out of that hole alive. Happy Birthday Etan.!


February 5th, 2013
3:23 pm

Yes, the child is physically ok, but noone knows what the emotional toll will be on this precious little boy. So let’s stop being thankful that he is ok and start sending prayers and positive energy to him so that his spirit has a chance to heal. Anyone who has been verbally abused knows how deep the emotional scars really are, even though they cannot be seen. Don’t be so quick to surmise that someone is “ok” simply because they look fine physically.

Mary Elizabeth

February 5th, 2013
5:58 pm

Well analyzed, Shari. And, very true.

Just A Teacher

February 5th, 2013
8:11 pm

RIP Mr. Poland. Thank you for your service to education. You are a fallen hero.


February 6th, 2013
11:42 am

The appelation “Mean as you-know-what” does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual V, which is the current standard for diagnosing Mental Illness. It probably should be taken into consideration for future editions because there are a lot of people in America that seem to fit this description.

Thomas Hyle

February 8th, 2013
10:45 pm

His actions seem so senseless I wonder if senile dementia was at work.


February 16th, 2013
7:27 pm

what did he have a problem with to the school or someone on that bus?and why would he shoot at someone over a speed bump?that just goes to show how stupid people are these days! If i would have gotten a hold of him he would be D-E-A-D!dead he would be for shooting a inisent man and kidnapping a precious little boy!what kind of heart did he have!