(MIDLAND CITY, Ala.) — A neighbor of the retired Alabama trucker who is holed up in an underground bunker with a young autistic boy as a hostage says that Jimmy Lee Dykes is a menacing person who has been preparing for this standoff for a while and has threatened to shoot anyone who came near his property.
“I cannot even fathom the whys or anything like that,” Ronda Wilbur told ABC News Friday. “I know that he has totally and completely no regard for human life, or any sort of life.”
Wilber, 55, lives across the dirty road from Dykes.
Dykes, 65, has been holed up in a 6 by 8 foot bunker 4 feet underground with his 5-year-old hostage named Ethan near Midland City, Ala. The standoff began when Dykes boarded a school bus and asked for two 6 to 8 year old boys. School bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was shot several times by Dykes, and died trying to protect the children.
Wilbur said she thinks his plan to hold out in his subterranean bunker has been brewing for a while.
“I think that he was obviously been planning something for a long time,” she said. “I had always figured he was more or less a wacko survivalist, but it’s obvious that he had this very well thought out and arranged, and it explains as to why he did so much work in the dark.”
Wilbur said that she would often see him with a gun patrolling his property when she would return home from work. Sometimes he would be patrolling as late as midnight. She also said that within the last three months that a cargo container showed up on his property, but it soon disappeared.
“He’s been digging. He moves dirt shovel by shovel. He made tiers. He moved cinder blocks from place to place to place, to however he wants to shape the land,” she said.
Dykes’ home is what Wilbur described as a travel trailer on land purchased from another neighbor approximately two years ago. She described him at 5-feet-8 and “exceedingly thin,” and “unhealthy” looking. His introduction to the neighborhood came when he replaced a neighbor’s mailbox with his own, she said. Soon he was threatening to shoot anyone or any animal that entered his property.
“He was very verbal that he hates all animals, and he didn’t want any animals or people anywhere near his land,” she said. “He told us flat out he would shoot any dogs that came onto his property.”
Last year Dykes, who Wilbur refers to as “Mean Man,” beat her 120-pound dog Max with a lead pipe when it entered what he perceived as “his side of the road,” she said. Max died a week later.
Police said that they do not think that Dykes had any connection to Ethan, and that SWAT teams and police are negotiating with Dykes.
Davis said that he has seen the bunker, which contains a television, and where Dykes has been known to hunker down for up to eight days.
“He’s got steps made out of cinder blocks going down to it,” Davis said. “It’s lined with those red bricks all in it.”
Police say Dykes may have enough supplies to last him weeks.
Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper pleaded Thursday for Dykes to release the boy.
“That’s an innocent kid. Let him go back to his parents, he’s crying for his parents and his grandparents and he does not know what’s going on,” he told ABC News. “Let this kid go.”
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