Mom of Ex-Hostage, 6: I Forgave Kidnapper

Jimmy Lee Dykes 'took care of Ethan': Jennifer Kirkland

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 14, 2013 3:08 AM CST

(Newser) – Jennifer Kirkland quickly forgave Jimmy Lee Dykes for taking her child hostage in Alabama for almost a week, she says. Dykes, who cooked for Ethan Gilman and asked authorities to pass him a favorite toy, "took care of Ethan to the best of his abilities," Kirkland told Dr. Phil McGraw. "From the very beginning I had already forgiven Mr. Dykes, even though he still had my child."

Ethan saw Dykes die at the hands of authorities, Kirkland said, per the AP. Days before, he had seen his bus driver shot by Dykes. The driver, Charles Albert Poland, had been a friend to Ethan, who often sat near him while riding, Kirkland noted—as on the day of the shooting. "The reason I think Ethan was taken off the bus is because when he saw Mr. Poland shot, Ethan passed out," his mother said. "Mr. Dykes went down to catch him and he picked him up. And I think, in his own way, he was trying to care for him." During the interview, Ethan whispered to her, "My bus driver is dead," AL.com reports.

Gov. Robert Bentley, left, draws with 6-year-old Ethan Gilman during a visit to the Governor's Office in Montgomery, Ala. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2012.   (AP Photo/Alabama Governor's Office, Jamie Martin)
From right to left, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and First Lady Dianne Bentley watch as Ethan Gilman shows his mother, Jennifer Kirkland, a toy mouse Bentley gave him.   (AP Photo/Alabama Governor's Office, Jamie Martin)
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