While the town of Midland City, Ala. buries the bus driver that was shot and killed last week by 65-year-old Jim Dykes, police are still negotiating with the aggressor to free a 5-year-old he took hostage seven days ago.
The hostage situation enters a week, and the kindergartener who was snatched off that bus remains in the custody of Dykes in an underground bunker.
“I want to thank him for taking care of our child,” Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said. “That’s very important.”
The child, who reportedly has Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has asked for a toy car and some snacks to be delivered to the bunker where he has been held captive, specifically a red hot wheels car and some Cheezit crackers. Those items were lowered into the bunker through a PVC pipe.
But aside from those developments, the FBI says that the situation remains “unchanged” and the agonizing negotiations continue in the Alabama town.
Town residents aren’t ready to give up and let little Ethan, reportedly the name of the child, stay in the custody of the killer…so they’ve turned to God.
Fliers imploring people to pray for the little boy were stuck onto the chain-link fence outside of the Midland City Elementary School, where he is enrolled. The fence also has been adorned with black, white, and red ribbons.
Residents have gathered for candlelight vigils on a nightly basis to pray for the child. And people are hopeful the hostage drama will lead to a renewed faith in God and to a closer-knit community.
Details about the relationship between Dykes and his 66-year-old victim, bus driver Charles Albert Poland, are also emerging.
Preacher Rev. Ray Layton revealed an act of kindness, typical of the man, carried out by Mr. Poland on the very morning of his death.
After finishing his morning route, the 66-year-old driver returned to Dykes’ home, bringing him a basket of eggs and jam.
Hours later, Dykes repaid that act with shocking violence.
The story is still developing, and we hope that little Ethan is safe from harm and that investigators will soon find a way to rescue him.