This image released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows the… (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation )
The murder-kidnapping case has prompted a major manhunt through the South and has put the suspect on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitive list. Now, people close to the families involved have come forward with a possible motive that threatens to turn the case from Greek tragedy to Southern Gothic.
In interviews with media outlets, they describe Adam Mayes, being sought on murder and kidnapping charges, as a man wanting to be reunited with children he believed he fathered with a woman authorities allege he killed. He is also accused of killing the woman's eldest daughter.
After the killing, Mayes and his ex-wife took the bodies across state lines to be buried in a shallow grave in the backyard of his mother’s house, authorities say. Still missing are Jo Ann Bain's two younger children; they're believed to be with Mayes, who has been on the run since the end of April.
Mayes, described by officials as a longtime friend of the Bain family of Hardeman County, Tenn., had been bickering with Jo Ann Bain, 31, relatives said.
“The reason they were arguing so much was because there was two little girls that he was just absolutely obsessed with,” Josie Tate, the suspect's former mother-in-law, told ABC's “Good Morning America” in an interview that aired Thursday. “He was claiming that those two children were his.”
The two missing children, Alexandria Bain, 12, and Kyliyah Bain, 8, haven’t been seen since the night of April 27, when Mayes and his ex-wife, Teresa, traveled to Tennessee from their home in Guntown, Miss., about 80 miles away. It was in Tennessee that Mayes took Jo Ann Bain into the garage and killed her, Teresa Mayes has told Tennessee investigators, according to affidavits filed with the court. Mayes also killed Bain’s eldest daughter, Adreinne, 14, authorities contend.
Teresa Mayes told investigators that, after the killings, she helped take the two bodies and the two younger girls by vehicle to Guntown, Miss., to the property where she lives with her ex-husband and his mother, Mary. There, Adam Mayes was seen working in the yard, Teresa Mayes said. The two bodies were discovered last week in a shallow grave, according to investigators.
As far as Teresa Mayes was concerned, the whole point of the trip was to get the youngest girls, investigators said they were told.
Authorities say they don’t know the nuances of the relationship between the suspect and victims, but they were certainly close. Mayes was a frequent visitor to Tennessee, and there are reports that he and Gary Bain, Jo Ann’s husband, had long-standing ties. Even Jo Ann Bain’s relatives have said that Mayes believed that the relationship with the girls was closer than just “uncle-like,” the term many have used.
And Mayes allegedly wanted the relationship to be closer still.
“I think he told some people all three of the girls were his,” Beverly Goodman, Jo Ann’s aunt told HLN. “I think he was just hopefully thinking that one day they would be his family, that Jo Ann would probably go live with him and bring the girls and they would be a family together.”
Whatever Mayes thought – or hoped for – matters less to officials than the fate of the girls.
“Turn the girls in, and then peaceably and safely turn yourself in to law enforcement,” FBI Special Agent Aaron Ford said at a Wednesday news conference. “We believe Mayes could be anywhere in the United States, and we are extremely concerned for the safety of the girls.”
Police have been searching the Mississippi backroads and woods for clues. Mayes also has contacts in several other states, including Florida, Texas and Arizona.
Officials have scheduled a Friday news conference to give “an inside look at the tips and leads being called in by the public regarding the fugitive case.
So far, $171,000 in reward money has been offered by the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for information leading to the location of Adam Mayes and the girls.
Teresa Mayes is in jail in Tennessee facing two first-degree murder charges, the same charges on which Adam Mayes is wanted. Both also face kidnapping charges.
Mary Frances Mayes, the mother of Adam Mayes, is also in jail, facing charges of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping.
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