News Column

Alabama Kidnapper, Killer Lived in Jacksonville

Feb 5, 2013

Dan Scanlan

Jimmy Lee Dykes was a "simple working guy" when he lived in Jacksonville at the Big Tree RV Park on Dunn Avenue for a few years in the mid-2000s and never caused a problem, park co-owner David Reynolds said.

Dykes, 65, killed a school bus driver and kidnapped a 5-year-old boy Jan. 29 in Midland City, Ala., and was killed Monday in a raid on his tornado bunker.

"He was not a troublemaker because we don't allow any in the park," Reynolds said Tuesday. "It's been years since he's been here and he wasn't any trouble to us, and if we had known about it, he would have been gone."

FBI agents did visit the park late last week to speak with residents about Dykes, Special Agent Jeff Westcott confirmed Tuesday from his Jacksonville office.

Dykes grew up in the Dothan, Ala., area joining the Navy from 1964 to 1969, according to The Associated Press. His record shows several awards including the Vietnam Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal. After the Navy, Dykes lived in Florida and worked as a surveyor and a long-haul truck driver and had some scrapes with the law.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show he was charged in February 1995 with improper exhibition of a weapon in Bay County, but it was dismissed. He also was arrested for marijuana possession in April 2000 in Bonifay and was fined $377 after pleading no contest. Nothing matching Dykes shows up in a criminal records check with the Duval County clerk of court.

Dykes returned to Alabama about two years ago, moving onto the rural tract on a dirt road north of Dothan. Neighbors knew him as Jimmy and said he was a loner who distrusted the government and once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe. He also threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property, which he patrolled at night with a flashlight and a gun, they told the AP.

Authorities don't know why he gunned down 66-year-old school bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr. and abducted a 5-year-old boy from the bus, taking him to an underground bunker on his property.

Source: (c)2013 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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