Finding out your child has been taken hostage is a mother's worst nightmare. Midland City, Alabama mother Jennifer Kirkland experienced that unimaginable scenario.
The six day ordeal all began January 29th on a bus ride home from school. Her son Ethan, six years old with bipolar, ADHD, and aspergers, was sitting where he always does, one seat behind bus driver Charles Poland.
Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65 years old, shot and killed Poland than grabbed Ethan, holding him captive in a man-made underground bunker on his property.
"I was afraid I wasn't going to get him back. I kept asking if he's afraid of going to jail, he's killed a man, he's definitely going to jail now. What reason does he have to release Ethan?" said Kirkland.
When minutes turned to hours, which stretched into days, Kirkland said she began to lose hope.
"Did you feel like you had let him down?" Dr. Phil asked.
"I did. I felt like he might be thinking I abandoned him and that I just gave up," Kirkland answered.
But still somehow she found the strength to forgive Dykes.
"I could not be angry through this because my job was to be the mother, the concerned mother," said Kirkland.
Then on day six, "I was told that he had stopped negotiating and that he had grown agitated, and that it had just become time to get Ethan out of there," Kirkland told Dr. Phil.
In a heroic rescue, authorities stormed the bunker shooting and killing Dykes. Ethan was safe.
"I got down on my knees and hugged him. I said, 'I sure have missed you Bug." He said, 'I missed you too.' There's no words to describe how you feel. I can tell you it's an overwhelming joy," said Kirkland.
Physically unharmed for the most part, the focus became the pain Ethan may have suffered on the inside.
"Did he see Mr. Dykes shot and killed?" asked Dr. Phil.
"He absolutely did," answered Kirkland.
"Did he see Mr. Poland murdered?" Dr. Phil followed up with asking.
"Yes he did," Kirkland said, "He's having a very hard time sleeping soundly. He slings his arms, and tosses, and turns. He's cried out a few times."
The road to full recovery for both Ethan and his mother may not be easy and won't happen overnight, it takes time to heal. But time is now on their side. Ethan is okay, all thanks to his brave rescuers and his bus driver, the heroic soul now guarding him from above.
"They had an amazing father, and husband, and friend to Ethan," Kirkland said about Poland's family.
A fund has been set up to help with Ethan's recovery. To donate, click on the link below.