MIDLAND CITY, Ala. —
Dykes grew up in the Dothan area. Mel Adams, a Midland City Council member who owns the lot where reporters are gathered, said he has known Dykes since they were ages 3 and 4.
He said Dykes has a sister and a brother, but he is estranged from his family. Adams said he didn’t know what caused the falling-out.
Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper said Dykes’ sister is in a nursing home. Adams said law enforcement officers have talked to Dykes’ family members and advised them not to speak with reporters, and officers told his sister there was nothing she could do to help the child in the bunker.
Government records and interviews with neighbors indicate that Dykes joined the Navy in Midland City, serving on active duty from 1964 to 1969. His record shows several awards, including the Vietnam Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. Dykes was trained in aviation maintenance and at one point was based in Japan. It was unclear if he saw combat in Vietnam.
Adams said that he, too, is a Vietnam veteran but that he never was close with Dykes. Adams said he recalls last seeing Dykes in the 1980s, when he drove a truck for a company that laundered uniforms.
At some point after his time in the Navy, Dykes lived in Florida, where he worked as a surveyor and a long-haul truck driver. It’s unclear how long he stayed there.
He had some scrapes with the law in Florida, including a 1995 arrest for improper exhibition of a weapon. The misdemeanor was dismissed. He also was arrested for marijuana possession in 2000.
He returned to Alabama about two years ago, moving onto the rural tract about 100 yards from his nearest neighbors, Michael Creel and his father, Greg.
Neighbors described Dykes as a man 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. Michael Creel said Dykes had an adult daughter, but the two lost touch years ago.