GUNTOWN, Miss. — Days of grueling searches for two young girls and the kidnapper who killed their mother and sister led to the kind of terrain that favors the hunted — high hardwoods and deep ravines near a red-brick church perched on a hill.
Specially trained officers had come up empty-handed for days but were following another lead Thursday evening after Adam Mayes was put on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List.
Dozens of tips had turned up nothing. This latest led officers to the woods near Zion Hill Baptist Church, just a couple miles from Mayes’ rented mobile home in Guntown, where 31-year-old Jo Ann Bain and her 14-year-old daughter, Adrienne, had been buried in a shallow grave.
The officers had searched the church and later split up and set out down two old logging roads leading deep into the forest. Just 60 yards down, Mississippi Highway Patrol Master Sgt. Steve Crawford saw a little girl’s head in the dirt. Within inches, another child. A few more inches, the man who proved so elusive.
A search that dragged on for days ended in seconds. “Let’s see your hands,” the officers shouted.
Mayes pushed himself up to his knees, pulled out a 9 mm pistol and shot himself in the head. He didn’t utter a word, and died a couple hours later at a hospital.
Twelve-year-old Alexandria Bain and 8-year-old Kyliyah sat up, subdued, within reach of Mayes’ body. Crawford said they didn’t cry, instead looking almost relieved.
“Now we can go home,” Lt. Lee Ellington heard the older girl tell her little sister. Ellington was part of a team from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
Home was a place the girls hadn’t seen since April 27, when Mayes, a friend they considered an uncle, killed Jo Ann and Adrienne Bain in the garage of their home in Whiteville, Tenn., according to police.
Mayes, a friend of Jo Ann’s husband, Gary, had gone to the house the night before to help the family pack for a move to Arizona. Instead, police said he killed the mother and daughter, packed their corpses into a car, grabbed the younger girls and headed south with his wife to the mobile home in Guntown.