The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

February 6, 2013

Military tactics, arms, helped rescue hostage

(Continued)

"To me, there was nothing unique in this other than it played out in front of the world."

FBI and other officials said the team exchanged gunfire with Dykes and killed him before rescuing the little boy, whom law enforcement officials have only identified by his first name, Ethan.

As law-enforcement officers continued to sweep the 100-acre property Wednesday for more explosive devices, Dykes' body remained in the bunker, said Dale County Coroner Woodrow Hilboldt.

Hilboldt told The Associated Press it could be Thursday before he would be allowed in to pronounce Dykes dead and take the body to Montgomery for an autopsy at the state forensic laboratory.

Military tactics and clandestine hostage-rescue methods were far from the minds of regular folks in Midland City on Wednesday, Ethan's sixth birthday, as they tried desperately to return to normal life while giving thanks for the heart-wrenching event's joyous outcome.

"We need a day or two to get our minds around what happened," said an aunt, Debra Cook.

The boy, who has Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was said to be acting like a normal kid despite his nearly weeklong captivity after a man police identified as Dykes nabbed him off a school bus on Jan. 29 and fatally shot the driver.

Officials hope to eventually throw a party to celebrate Ethan's birthday and to honor the memory of the slain driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr.

Hundreds of miles away, a woman who knows all too well what Ethan may have gone through expressed her own thanks Wednesday for the boy's safety.

Katie Beers, who was kidnapped as a 9-year-old in 1992 and kept in an underground bunker in suburban New York for 17 days before her captor surrendered to police and showed them where she was hidden, said she was "ecstatic" that Ethan was rescued safely.

Beers, who now lives in Pennsylvania, said it was likely that not only Ethan, but his family, would need counseling. "He's so young that hopefully he won't remember a lot," she said.

"But her family is also going to need counseling so they know how to deal with Ethan and help him through the ordeal."

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