By Erik Schelzig And Travis Loller Associated Press
WHITEVILLE, Tenn. — A man accused of abducting a mother and her three daughters was a family friend described as being like an uncle to the girls.
Now Adam Mayes, 35, is the subject of an Amber Alert and faces charges in the disappearance of Jo Ann Bain and her daughters 14-year-old Adrienne, 12-year-old Alexandria and 8-year-old Kyliyah.
The case is shrouded in uncertainty as investigators have yet to reveal many details. Authorities found two bodies late last week at a house in Mississippi linked to Mayes. Bain and her daughters were first reported missing from their Tennessee home a week earlier. Mayes is missing and has ties to several states.
FBI spokesman Joel Siskovic told The Associated Press on Monday that authorities were waiting on a report from the state’s medical examiner’s office before identifying the two bodies in Mississippi. He would not say if the bodies were those of children.
Authorities have described Mayes as being armed and extremely dangerous.
Jo Ann Bain’s husband Gary and Mayes knew each other, Tennessee authorities said.
Mayes “thought the world of those little girls,” observed Melvin Herron, 42, who lives next door to the Bain family in western Tennessee and recalled seeing the girls playing outside, running and going down water slides.
On Sunday, forensic scientists with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation searched the garage and backyard at the Hardeman County, Tenn., home where Bain, her husband and the three girls live.
Gary Bain declined to comment Sunday to an Associated Press reporter.
“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 Sunday that the woman and her daughters were moving to Arizona because two of the girls had asthma. Other than dealing with a recent death in the family, Bain, who had frequented the restaurant, never indicated anything was wrong.
“She seemed so happy,” Kirkland said.
Jo Ann Bain and her daughters were last seen in their home early April 27, according to Kristin Helm, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Mayes and Gary Bain had long been acquainted, having once been married to sisters. Helm said he was viewed as an uncle.
“Mayes is a family friend who was staying there that night to help the family pack and drive a U-Haul to Arizona the next day with Gary because the family was planning on moving there within the month,” Helm said. “Gary was asleep at the home that night and woke to find them gone in the morning and the car gone. Mayes was gone too.”
Gary Bain woke up after the kids typically went to school so he didn’t expect to see them, Helm said. But then he tried calling his wife on her cell phone during the day and couldn’t reach her.
When the girls didn’t get off the school bus, he reported them missing to the sheriff’s office that evening.
Helm said Gary Bain’s adult daughter and his granddaughter had also spent the night at the family’s home, but that the grown daughter didn’t see Jo Ann or the girls the next morning. And the car was missing.
On April 30, the vehicle was found abandoned in Hardeman County, which is about 70 miles east of Memphis. Jo Ann Bain and her daughters had left most of their personal belongings at the house, Helm said.
On Friday, the TBI reported that the girls were with Mayes in Mississippi, but there was no evidence that a crime had been committed.
Mayes was last seen Tuesday in Guntown, Miss., about 80 miles southeast of the Bains’ Tennessee home.
Siskovic said authorities talked to Mayes early on in the investigation, but that he fled when they tried to contact him again. Authorities said Mayes did not appear to have a criminal record.
Police had been trying to determine whether Jo Ann Bain went with Mayes willingly.
By Friday, Mayes had a warrant on file in Hardeman County for false report stemming from information he gave investigators about the case.
Siskovic said Saturday that the bodies were found late Friday or early Saturday in a Mississippi home. He wasn’t sure if the home belonged to Mayes or an acquaintance.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol issued an Amber Alert on Saturday morning for the girls, and Tennessee authorities have also issued an alert.
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety said Saturday it believed “the children may be in extreme danger,” and that warrants for kidnapping had been issued for Mayes.
The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service also announced a reward of up to $50,000 for information that leads to the location of the missing victims and the arrest of Mayes.
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 described Adrienne as having 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 blonde 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.
However, authorities said Mayes may have cut his hair, as well as cut and dyed the girls’ hair to disguise their identities.
Back in the Bains’ neighborhood, neighbor Herron said he hoped the bodies found in Mississippi were not the girls or their mother.
“I’m praying to God it’s not those little girls,” he said.