US authorities have publicly thanked a suspected kidnapper for taking care of a five-year-old boy he has now allegedly held hostage for more than five days.
Decorated Vietnam War veteran Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, allegedly gunned down an Alabama school bus driver before abducting a boy from the bus and taking him to an underground bunker at his rural property on Tuesday.
An FBI statement said authorities were maintaining open communication with Dykes and he appeared to be making the boy as comfortable as possible in the bunker.
Authorities have also delivered food, toys and medication for the boy, who reportedly has Asperger's syndrome and ADHD.
"I want to thank him for taking care of our child," Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said in a press conference at the weekend.
"That's very important."
Authorities have not said whether Dykes has made any demands.
Dykes' neighbour Michael Creel said he suspected the alleged kidnapping was an attempt to make a political statement.
Other neighbours said Dykes once beat a dog to death with a metal pipe, had threatened to shoot children for walking onto his property and often patrolled his yard with a flashlight and firearm at night.
Author: Alexandra Pleffer, Approving editor: Fiona Willan