GUNTOWN, Miss. – As a SWAT team closed in, a fugitive accused of killing a Tennessee mother and daughter before disappearing for nearly two weeks with her two other children killed himself Thursday evening, allowing authorities to safely recover the kidnapped girls, police said.
Adam Mayes, 35, shot himself in the head after authorities, acting on a tip, found him and the girls near New Albany, Miss., Guntown Police Chief Michael Hall said.
After getting the tip, authorities spotted one of the missing girls — 12-year-old Alexandria Bain — in a densely wooded area behind a church several miles west of Mayes' home, said Aaron T. Ford, special-agent-in-charge of the FBI's Memphis, Tenn., office. Law enforcement agents repeatedly ordered Mayes to come out with his hands up, Ford said at a news conference early Friday. But Mayes refused to raise his hands, pulled a pistol from his waistband and shot himself.
Ford said authorities then moved in and recovered Alexandria Bain and her sister, Kyliyah Bain, 8. The girls appeared to have been in the woods for two or three days and were suffering from exposure, dehydration and poison ivy, Ford said.
"They were immediately given water as they were escorted to safety," Ford said.
Mayes later was pronounced dead at a hospital, Daniel McMullen, FBI special agent in charge of Mississippi, said at a Thursday evening news conference.
Alexandria and Kyliyah Bain were taken to a hospital in Memphis for observation. They appeared to be unharmed, McMullen said.
A special operations team from the Mississippi Highway Patrol and officers from the state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks rescued the girls, McMullen said.
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.
"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.
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. State and local law enforcement agents Thursday searched a densely wooded area about 10 miles from Mayes' home near Guntown.
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."
Mohr reported from Jackson, Miss. Associated Press reporters Sheila Burke and Joe Edwards in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this story.