MIDLAND CITY, Ala. – Speaking into a 4-inch-wide ventilation pipe, hostage negotiators tried Thursday to talk a man into releasing a kindergartner and ending a standoff in an underground bunker that stretched into its third day.
The man identified by multiple neighbors and witnesses as 65-year-old retired truck driver Jimmy Lee Dykes was accused of pulling the boy from a school bus on Tuesday and killing the driver. The pair was holed up in a small room on his property that authorities compared to tornado shelters common in the area.
There were signs that the standoff could continue for some time: A state legislator said the shelter has electricity, food and TV. James Arrington, police chief of the neighboring town of Pinckard, said the captor has been sleeping and told negotiators that he has spent long periods in the shelter before.
“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.”
Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper said he has been briefed by law enforcement and visited with the boy’s parents.
“He’s crying for his parents,” he said. “They are praying and asking all of us to pray with them.”