Behind the Crime Scene - A True Crime Podcast
This happened in Midland City, Alabama. It turned out to be one of the most difficult and dangerous hostage cases ever handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It was January 29, 2013. Jimmy Lee Dykes waved down a school bus that was dropping off kids after school. The bus driver, 66 year old Charles Poland, Jr,, who knew Dykes, stopped the bus. Dykes boarded with an outrageous request. He wanted to take two boys’ hostage. Dykes had a gun, but the driver blocked the bus aisle to protect the kids on the bus. Dykes shot and killed the driver before kidnapping a five-year-old boy with special needs. His name was Ethan, and he sat in the seat closest to the door.
Dykes was a Vietnam War Veteran. He had lost touch with an ex-wife and two daughters. His older girl recalled his fondness of firearms and a hatred for authorities. Mr. Dykes had worked as a land surveyor and a truck driver. He had been fired from his last job after having a dispute with his boss. A neighbor referred to him as “a time bomb waiting to go off.””
Dykes carried Ethan to a six-foot by eight-foot underground bunker that was located on his property. The bunker was rigged with explosives and had only a narrow pipe for ventilation. Dykes called 911 and told the police he had taken a hostage. His ultimate goal? To swap Ethan for a female TV reporter who would join him in the bunker and broadcast his manifesto as he spoke. Once he delivered the message, he would put a plastic bag over his head and fill it with helium. The woman would hold his hand while he suffocated.
Dykes told the police to use the ventilation pipe to relay communications with him. Early on, they learned the pipe had been rigged with explosives and convinced Dykes to accept a throw phone. Hostage negotiators believed Dykes had explosives inside the bunker and tried to keep tensions low as they attempted to negotiate Ethan’s release. In the meantime, they convinced Dykes to allow them to deliver Ethan’s daily medicine, coloring books, food and toys that they would leave outside the bunker. After they moved away, Dykes would open the trap door and cautiously accept the supplies.
Over six days, Dykes became increasingly agitated and authorities believed he was going to kill Ethan. Law enforcement officials were faced with a serious, if not deadly decision.
Let's go Behind the Crime Scene to find out how Michael Osborn responded to this harrowing event.
References: “Inside an FBI Hostage Crisis” by Michael M. Phillips, The Wall Street Journal
“Rescuing the Boy in the Bunker” by Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D. Psychology Today
Upon graduating from the FBI Academy in 1998, Michael Osborn was assigned to the New York Field Office where he investigated civil rights and child exploitation matters. In 2003, he transferred to the Los Angeles Field Office, was assigned to the Violent Crimes Against Children Squad and conducted investigations involving online exploitation of children and human trafficking. Michael was promoted to squad supervisor in 2009 and established the first Innocence Lost National Initiative Task Force in Los Angeles County. This multi-agency task force of Local, State, and Federal agencies focused on child sex trafficking matters. In 2008 and 2009, Michael supported the FBI’s counterterrorism operations while in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2012, Michael was promoted to Supervisory Special Agent at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. where he managed the FBI’s global efforts involving child sex tourism. He was promoted again and between 2012 and 2015, he served as Unit Chief in the Violent Crimes Against Children Section where he managed the FBI’s domestic operations targeting child exploitation. Michael was then promoted and returned to the New York Field Office where he served as Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Violent Crime Branch. In this role, he managed all Violent Crimes Against Children, Gang, Violent Crime, Human Trafficking, and Transnational Organized Crime matters throughout the New York Field Office’s area of responsibility. With over 21 years of service, Michael retired from the FBI in 2019.
Among his many recognitions, Michael was awarded the United States Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement in 2003, and in 2011 he received the United States Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service.