Dykes grew up in the Dothan area. Mel Adams, a Midland City Council member who owns the lot where reporters are gathered, said he has known Dykes since they were ages 3 and 4.
He said Dykes has a sister and a brother, but that he is estranged from his family.
Adams said he didn't know what caused the falling-out, but that "he had told part of his family to go to hell."
Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper said Dykes' sister is in a nursing home. Adams said law enforcement officers have talked to Dykes' family members and advised them not to speak with reporters, and that officers told her there was nothing she could do to help the child in the bunker.
Government records and interviews with neighbors indicate that Dykes joined the Navy in Midland City, serving 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.
Adams said that like Dykes, he is a Vietnam veteran but never was close with him. He said he recalls last seeing Dykes was in the 1980s, when he drove a truck for a company that laundered uniforms.
At some point after his time in the Navy, Dykes lived in Florida, where he worked as a surveyor and a long-haul truck driver. It's unclear how long he stayed there.
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, Michael Creel and his father, Greg.