Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old man described by his neighbors as a paranoid survivalist, grabbed the boy from a school bus last Tuesday afternoon.
Dykes had boarded the bus and demanded that the bus driver, Charles Poland, 66, turn over two young children. When Poland refused, Dykes then fatally shot him and took the 5-year-old boy named Ethan.
Dykes, a decorated Vietnam veteran, then took Ethan to an underground bunker that neighbors had seen him digging. The bunker is believed to be roughly 8 by 6 feet and to be stocked with supplies. The bunker has a ventilation pipe that authorities have used to deliver items. Authorities have not discussed a motive for the kidnapping.
Over the last week, hostage negotiators delivered a red Hot Wheels car, Cheez-Its crackers and other food and medicine to the boy, who has a mild form of autism. The FBI said Sunday that the boy's captor "continues to make the environment as comfortable as possible for the child."
Authorities in Alabama said earlier Monday that they were "doing everything humanly possible" to rescue the boy held captive underground for almost a week.
Hostage negotiators have stayed in touch with Dykes, the man suspected of kidnapping the child off a school bus last week and holding him in a bunker. They have given few tactical details.
"He feels like he has a story that's important to him," Sheriff Wally Olson of Dale County told reporters. "Although it's very complex, we're trying to make a safe environment."
Published reports have suggested Dykes wants to talk to a reporter.
Authorities say Dykes, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran described by neighbors as a paranoid menace, kidnapped the boy, named Ethan, after shooting and killing the driver of the bus.
The negotiators had delivered a red Hot Wheels car, Cheez-Its crackers and other food and medicine to the boy, who has a mild form of autism.
Jeffrey Gardere, a child psychologist, said that the boy "is most likely terrified."
"The overriding thought in his head is that he wants his mother, that he just wants to be out of that situation," he said.
The small town of Midland City has held vigils and offered prayers for the boy.
"I wish that I could just hug him and hold him and tell him it was going to be all right," said one neighbor, Sherri Johnson Parker.
The bus driver, Charles Poland, was laid to rest Sunday.