MIDLAND CITY, Ala. —
Government records and interviews with neighbors indicate that Dykes joined the Navy in Midland City and served on active duty from 1964 to 1969. His record shows several awards, including the Vietnam Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. During his service, Dykes was trained in aviation maintenance.
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.
Ronda Wilbur, a neighbor of Dykes who said the man beat her dog to death last year with a pipe, expressed relief like other neighbors who described the suspect as volatile and threatening. "The nightmare is over," Wilbur said.
On Sunday, more than 500 people attended a memorial service for bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., hailed as a hero for protecting nearly two dozen other children on the bus before he was gunned down.
"This man was a true hero who was willing to give up his life so others might live," Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement after the rescue.