The kidnapper of a 5-year-old in Alabama, who was killed Monday when authorities rescued the boy, is a decorated Vietnam veteran with a troubled past, it emerged today. The boy has been safely returned to his family.
Authorities say Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, killed a school bus driver before taking the child hostage for nearly a week in an underground bunker on his property. Neighbors described him to news outlets as a menacing figure, who was estranged from his family, and once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe. They say he threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a shotgun, the Associated Press reports.
Dykes was in the Navy, serving on active duty from 1964 to 1969, where he won several awards, including the Vietnam Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. He moved to Southeast Alabama from Florida two years ago. Locals described him in recent days as a loner who often railed against the government and listened to a lot to conservative talk radio. according to the Associated Press.
He had some previous run-ins with the law. AP reports that he was arrested in 1995 for improper exhibition of a weapon, but the misdemeanor was dismissed. He also was arrested for marijuana possession in 2000.
Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to face a charge of menacing some neighbors with a gun as they drove by his house weeks ago, the AP reports.