A little more than a week after an Alabama kindergartener was freed from an underground bunker by a FBI special team, his mom has reached out to Tv personality Dr. Phil McGraw for help in dealing with her son Ethan's emotions.
Jennifer Kirkland appeared on Wednesday's Dr. Phil episode. The show says she asked for help in talking with her son "about the frightening experience....How might it affect his mental and emotional health in the future?"
Ethan was in the 6-by-8 bunker when the FBI team stormed it, killing his captor, Jimmy Lee Dykes, who had held him there for a week. The agents went in, after they saw through a hidden camera that Dykes had become more agitated and was carrying a gun. Ethan had already seen Dykes kill his bus driver, Charles Poland, Jr. before he was kidnapped.
During the week-long ordeal, Ethan's mom wanted to talk to Dykes herself, but she was urged not to by authorities. Kirkland says the situation was so delicate, she also stayed away from reporters as the situation developed. Dykes had access to television and the internet and officials didn't want Ethan to overhear his mother in interview and become agitated.
"I didn't want Ethan to see me and break down, and then Mr. Dykes see Ethan break down, and not knowing how he would react to that," she says.
But Kirkland also wanted Dykes to be helped. She told a sheriff's deputy, "I understand that man is sick. Don't hurt him." And she says she saw Dykes as a man who cared for her son, who cooked chicken for him and asked for toys that were given to him.
Kirkland says, "From the very beginning, I had already forgiven Mr. Dykes, even though he still had my child. I could not be angry through this because my job was to be the mother, the concerned mother that I needed to be. and want to get my child back. And with hatred in me, I could have never made it through it."
"I asked that he not be hurt, but if it came down to it, you know, of course I want my child safe," she added.
Kirkland says Ethan is showing some signs of sleep disturbance. Counselors tell the Associated Press that the child will need to be evaluated for nightmares.