GUNTOWN, Miss. – State troopers stopped vehicles at roadblocks Monday and officers searched the yard of a home in northern Mississippi, seeking to unravel the mysterious disappearance of a Tennessee mother and her three daughters and find the family friend accused of abducting them.
Mississippi state troopers who were stopping vehicles and searching their trunks along State Route 30 near Guntown said they were conducting a manhunt for 35-year-old Adam Mayes. He's being sought in the April 27 disappearance of Jo Ann Bain and her daughters: 14-year-old Adrienne, 12-year-old Alexandria and 8-year-old Kyliyah.
Officers also searched the yard of a home near Guntown that's been linked to Mayes.
Authorities are investigating whether the disappearance of the mother and daughters is related to two bodies found late last week outside Guntown at the house police have connected to Mayes. The effort to identify the bodies continued Monday.
Mayes was last seen a week ago in Guntown, about 80 miles south of the Bain family's home in Whitesville, Tenn.
Kidnapping warrants have been issued for Mayes. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety said Saturday it believed "the children may be in extreme danger."
Jo Ann Bain and her daughters were last seen at their home outside Whiteville. Before they disappeared, the Bains had been preparing to move to Arizona.
The mother's Facebook page shows that in the days before the four disappeared she was packing and working on homework. Her last post, dated April 26, said "a good venting always makes you feel better." It didn't say why she was venting.
A web of ties connects Mayes to the missing woman and her family. They were all known around Whiteville, a town of about 4,500 people 60 miles east of Memphis. Mayes was a longtime friend of Bain's husband and had been at their home the evening before they disappeared, police said.
Both Gary Bain and Mayes were once married to sisters, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm said.
Mayes had stayed over at the Bains' house to help the family pack and load up a U-Haul to drive across the country to Arizona, Helm said. Gary Bain, who was at the house that night, awoke to find his wife, daughters and Mayes gone.
He couldn't reach his wife on her cell phone that day, and reported them missing when the girls didn't get off the school bus.
While authorities say Mayes is likely to be armed and extremely dangerous, acquaintances describe him as friendly, helpful and like an uncle to the girls.
Gerald Long, 60, of Jackson, Tenn., said he last saw Mayes about two years ago. He said Mayes lived across the street from him for about a year with his wife, Teresa. He described Mayes as a "sociable person."
He was helpful, Long said. "He didn't seem violent or anything."
As for his relationship with his wife, Long said "they were always up and down about things." Long would not elaborate.
The neighbor said he thought Mayes and his wife are no longer together.
Jo Ann Bain's aunt said she was waiting Monday for authorities to tell her that her niece and the girls are safe.
"I pray for Jo Ann and the girls to be OK and for them to come home," said Beverly Goodman, who works at Whiteville City Hall.
She said that her niece was not the type of woman to run off with someone.
Goodman expressed frustration that the authorities didn't issue an amber alert sooner. "What would it have hurt to put an Amber Alert out?" Goodman said. "They might have saved a couple of lives."
"Jo Ann and the kids, everyone loves them. We're just hoping to hear that they're safe," said Linda Kirkland, a family friend and cook at the Country Cafe in Whiteville, Tenn.
Kirkland said the woman and her daughters were moving to Arizona because two of the girls had asthma.
FBI spokesman Joel Siskovic said authorities talked to Mayes early on in the investigation, but he fled when they tried to contact him again.
Authorities had said over the weekend that Mayes could be in Mississippi but that he has ties to Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.
Authorities said Adrienne has brown hair and eyes. She's 5 feet 4 inches tall and 129 pounds. Alexandria has brown hair and hazel eyes and is 5 feet tall and 105 pounds. Kyliyah has blond hair and brown eyes and is 4 feet tall and 57 pounds.
Mayes has brown hair and blue eyes and is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 175 pounds.
Authorities said Mayes may have cut his hair, as well as cut and dyed the girls' hair to disguise their identities.