Home / National News / Ala. Hostage Rescue: 6-Year-Old Ethan Speaks After Abduction


(NEW YORK) — For the first time since his release from an underground Alabama bunker, 6-year-old Ethan and his mother, Jennifer Kirkland, have revealed new details about his six days as a hostage, telling TV host Dr. Phil McGraw that he “has had a very hard time sleeping soundly.”

Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, abducted Ethan and held him in a 6-by-8-foot bunker 4 feet underground near Midland City, Ala. He had snatched the boy from a school bus after shooting the driver to death.

The standoff ended after six days when Dykes engaged in a firefight with SWAT agents before they stormed the bunker and killed him.

Ethan and Kirkland sat down with Dr. Phil for an exclusive one-on-one interview last week, in which they described Ethan’s time underground with Dykes.

“We know for example that Mr. Dykes seemed to have some empathy for the child,” McGraw told ABC News. “We do know that Mr. Dykes fried him chicken in the bunker to feed him and take care of him.”

McGraw visited Ethan in Alabama two days after the daring rescue Feb. 4.

“He has said a few things,” Kirkland said in the interview that will air on Dr. Phil Wednesday. “Now I know that he has had a very hard time sleeping soundly. He slings his arms and tosses and turns. He’s cried out a few times.”

McGraw told ABC News that Ethan hasn’t been back to school yet, and even the sight of a school bus seems to agitate him. McGraw said his fixation on the school bus indicated that he associates it with something that was traumatic for him.

The Dr. Phil show says it plans to follow up with Ethan and his mother to provide support and resources. The show also says the Dr. Phil Foundation is making a financial contribution to help support Ethan in the future.

McGraw said he doesn’t think Ethan truly has a grasp on what happened to him.

“From an adult perspective, [he doesn’t],” McGraw said. “I think he understands that there was a very violent act, and it scared him greatly.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


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