Alabama bunker hostage boy Ethan 'physically well'
on 06/02/2013 09:39:38
Betty Jean Ransbottom said the boy, who is six today, seemed fine in hospital after his rescue, but the family is not yet sure how he is doing mentally.
The boy was abducted from a school bus last week after 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes shot the driver and took the child back to a bunker on his property.
Authorities raided the shelter after realising that Dykes had a gun, saying he appeared to be increasingly agitated and that negotiations had deteriorated, and he was killed by law enforcement agents.
Neighbours had described Dykes as a nuisance 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.
The Vietnam War veteran Dykes had some problems with the law in Florida, one involving a weapon and another marijuana.
Mrs Ransbottom said an FBI agent stayed with the family the entire time the boy was being held hostage.
They learned of his rescue when an FBI agent at the scene called the agent staying with the family.
She said she cried herself to sleep every night while the boy was being held hostage, and that she did not sleep much while she awaited news.
"It was horrible. I never went through anything so horrible," she said.
The boy's mother, in a statement released by the FBI, expressed her thanks for all the hard work of so many officers to bring her son home.
"For the first time in almost a week, I woke up this morning to the most beautiful sight ... my sweet boy," said the woman, who asked not to be identified. "I can't describe how incredible it is to hold him again."
FBI officials have given few details about the stand-off and the raid that ended it. For days, officers passed food, medicine and other items into the bunker, which was similar to a tornado shelter and apparently had running water, heat and cable television.
FBI bomb technicians were continuing to search the property for any explosive devices as officials prepared to collect evidence and more thoroughly study the site, said FBI special agent Jason Pack.
Debra Cook, Mrs Ransbottom's sister, said the family was grateful for the community's prayers for the safe return of the boy, whom law enforcement officials have identified by his first name, Ethan.
"He has gone through a terrible ordeal, and I don't know if he will ever get over it," she said.
Officials said there was no indication that Dykes had harmed the boy, who has Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Dale County coroner Woodrow Hilboldt said officials had not yet removed Dykes' body from the underground shelter.
He said he does not know how Dykes died because he has not yet examined the body.
Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said Dykes was armed when officers entered the bunker. He added the boy was threatened, but declined to give further details.