GUNTOWN, Miss. – A man wanted by the FBI for killing a mother and daughter and kidnapping two other girls shot himself to death as officers closed in, but the two children were rescued without injuries and released from a hospital Friday.
Authorities who tracked Adam Mayes to a wooded area Thursday evening said they repeatedly ordered him to surrender, but he pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the head. The FBI put him on their Top 10 most-wanted list this week in the killing of a Tennessee woman and her oldest daughter and the kidnapping of the two younger daughters.
Mayes, 35, was pronounced dead and sisters Alexandria Bain, 12, and Kyliyah Bain, 8, were rescued, ending a nearly two-week search that began when Jo Ann Bain and her three daughters disappeared from their Tennessee home April 27.
After getting a tip, law enforcement officers were sent to search a densely wooded area west of Mayes’ home in Guntown, Miss., said Aaron T. Ford, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis, Tenn., office.
Mayes and the girls had been holed up in a wooden structure in the woods, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
At 6:50 p.m. Thursday, an officer saw Alexandria Bain in an area about 100 yards behind a church, Ford said. Officers shouted commands for Mayes to show his hands, Ford said. But Mayes pulled a semiautomatic pistol from his waistband and shot himself in the head, Ford said.
Law enforcement officers moved in to rescue the two girls, who were lying on the ground nearby. Ford said they looked like they had been in the woods for two or three days and were suffering from exposure, dehydration and poison ivy, but were otherwise safe.
“They were immediately given water as they were escorted to safety,” Ford said. The girls were hospitalized “as a precaution,” he said.
“We are very relieved at this event tonight,” Ford said at an early Friday news conference. “We have two little girls that we can return to Tennessee to their family.”
Sara Burnett, a spokeswoman for Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, said the two girls were treated and released early Friday. Burnett didn’t have details on their conditions and didn’t know who picked them up.
Mayes had been charged with first-degree murder in the April 27 deaths of Jo Ann Bain, 31, and her daughter, Adrienne Bain, 14. Their bodies were found buried outside Mayes’ home a week after they were reported missing by Jo Ann Bain’s husband.
Mayes’ wife, Teresa, also is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths. She told investigators he killed Jo Ann and Adrienne Bain at their Whiteville, Tenn., home so he could abduct the two young sisters, according to court documents.
Ford and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said authorities still had many unanswered questions and were continuing their investigation. They did not say how the girls and Mayes were able to survive in the woods.
Gwyn did not say whether there was specific evidence of people helping Mayes in Tennessee and Mississippi but added that investigators were still looking into that possibility and anyone found to have helped Mayes would be held responsible.
“Thank God it’s over and the babies are safe,” said Teresa Mayes’ sister, Bobbi Booth. “That’s all that mattered. I’m just glad it turned out the way it did.”
Teresa Mayes told investigators that after she saw her husband kill the two in the garage at the Bain home, she drove him, the younger girls and the bodies to Mississippi, according to affidavits filed in court. She faces six felony counts in the case: two first-degree murder charges and four especially aggravated kidnapping charges.
Authorities refused to comment on the motive for the slayings and abductions.
Mayes’ mother-in-law, Josie Tate, had told The Associated Press that Mayes thought the missing sisters might actually be his daughters and it caused problems in his marriage to her daughter, Teresa.
“She was tired of him doting on those two little girls that he claimed were his,” Tate said.
Tate said she was glad the two girls are safe but is afraid of what will happen to her daughter, Teresa Mayes.
“I’m scared about what will happen to my daughter, that she will have to take the brunt of the punishment,” Tate said. “If she participated in any way, it was because she was too scared to stand up to Adam or she was brainwashed.”
Speaking Friday on NBC’s “Today” show, Tate said she did not think the girls were actually Adam Mayes’ daughters. She also said Adam Mayes was a “control freak” who made his wife cut all ties with her family.
Adam Mayes’ mother, Mary Mayes, also has been charged with conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping. Mary Mayes’ attorney, Somerville attorney Terry Dycus, said his client maintains she is not guilty.
The hunt for Adam Mayes and the two young sisters encompassed parts of at least three counties in northern Mississippi.
Dee Hart, who organized a Tuesday night vigil for the girls in Bolivar, Tenn., said their prayers were answered.
“No words can express our elation,” she said by phone. “We know prayers brought those babies home. I can’t wait to see them.”
Associated Press reporters Kristin M. Hall, Sheila Burke and Joe Edwards in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.