TUPELO, Mississippi (Reuters) - Investigators involved in the manhunt for Adam Mayes, the fugitive charged with kidnapping two Tennessee girls after allegedly killing their mother and older sister, say he may be receiving outside help to evade capture.
Mayes, 35, now the most wanted fugitive in the United States, has not been seen since April 30, three days after police say he killed Jo Ann Bain, 31, and her oldest daughter Adrienne, 14, before abducting her younger girls, Alexandria, 12, and Kyliyah, 8.
Authorities from the FBI and state and local agencies said Mayes probably still has the girls and they have continued searching for them around the northern Mississippi town of Guntown, where the bodies of the mother and oldest daughter were discovered.
One U.S. marshal’s agent involved with the search, who could not be identified because he is not authorized to speak publicly on the case, said he believes someone is sheltering Mayes.
Bounty hunters experienced in manhunts said it would be difficult for anyone to stay so well hidden without outside aid, particularly in a case where the fugitive’s face appears so frequently on cable television and the Internet.
“You can’t get the kind of attention he’s getting with two kids in tow and not get caught, not with cameras on practically every street,” Phil “Tiny” Person, a bounty hunter with Corbett Bonding in Tupelo, Mississippi, said.
“If you’re in a vehicle, you’ve got to have gas, you’ve got to have food, you’ve got to have water. Someone has to be getting it for you, otherwise you’re going to be on camera,” he said.
FBI spokesman Joel Siskovic said the agency has considered the possibility Mayes could be getting help but added the search team is looking at a number of different angles.
“It’s a kind of a tight community out there,” Siskovic said. “The relationships he had developed in that area and the familial contacts, if there is somebody down there that has him holed up, we’re certainly running that theory down.”
Siskovic said he is hopeful the $100,000 reward accompanying Mayes’ addition to the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List” will prompt whomever might be hiding Mayes to hand him over.
The FBI reward is in addition to $71,000 already offered by other sources for Mayes’ capture and conviction.
Sheriff Jim Johnson of Lee County, Miss., where Guntown is located, said it would be unlikely that Mayes could stay hidden while bringing along two children without some support.
“If these children are still with him, then those children are dependent upon this man to survive. I’d seem to think he has made some type of contact, forcibly or voluntarily, that someone is harboring him,” he said.
While authorities have focused the search for Mayes on northern Mississippi, they said he had connections in several other states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas and Arizona.
The FBI has been collaborating with numerous agencies, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and the Union County Sheriff’s Department.
Mayes was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping Wednesday in Hardeman County, Tenn. Also charged was his wife, Teresa Mayes, 30.
His mother, Mary Frances Mayes, 65, was charged with four counts of intent to commit especially aggravated kidnapping. Both Mayes women are being held at the Hardeman County Jail on bond.
Reporting by Emily Le Coz; editing by Dan Burns