By Emily Le Coz
GUNTOWN, Mississippi (Reuters) - The man suspected of killing a Tennessee woman and her teenage daughter in order to kidnap the woman's two younger daughters has been charged with murder and is now the most-wanted fugitive in the country, officials said on Wednesday.
Adam Mayes, 35, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Jo Ann Bain, 31, and her oldest daughter, Adrienne, 14, on April 27, the day of their disappearance, according to court records in Hardeman County, Tennessee.
Bain's two younger daughters, Alexandria, 12, and Kyliyah, 8, are missing, and authorities believe they are being held by Mayes, who is considered armed and dangerous.
Mayes' wife, Teresa Mayes, 30, was also charged with first-degree murder in the case, court records show.
Mayes was considered a friend of the Bain family and was with them at their rural western Tennessee home on the morning of their disappearance, a statement from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said. Jo Ann Bain's husband reported the four missing from their home that day.
According to the statement, Mayes killed Jo Ann and Adrienne Bain at their home, and he and Teresa Mayes then drove the bodies and two younger girls to Mayes' mother's home near the northern Mississippi town of Guntown, the statement said.
It added that he buried the bodies in a shallow grave behind the house, where they were discovered last weekend.
According to the court affidavits released on Wednesday, Teresa Mayes, who was arrested on Sunday along with Mayes' mother, Mary Mayes, told investigators that Adam Mayes' intent was to take the two younger girls from their home. That motive led to the murders. Investigators declined to elaborate.
Investigators said they still believed the two younger Bain girls were alive, which limited how much they can say about the investigation and manhunt.
"We must be cautious not to release any information that could put the lives of these young girls in jeopardy," Daniel McMullen, FBI special agent in charge, Mississippi, said at a news conference in Guntown.
The FBI has placed Adam Mayes at the top of its "Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List," partly to draw more resources into the manhunt, FBI investigators said on Wednesday. A total of $175,000 in reward money is now offered for his capture.
Mayes was last seen in Guntown on May 1, and while authorities focus the search on northern Mississippi, they said he had connections in several other states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas and Arizona.
"He could be en route to any of those states," McMullen said.
In addition to the murder charges, Adam and Teresa Mayes are charged with multiple counts of "especially aggravated kidnapping" for the abduction of the younger Bain girls. Mayes' mother is charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping.
Mayes' wife and mother are in Hardeman County Jail. A preliminary hearing for both is scheduled for May 22.
(Reporting by Emily Le Coz; Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Xavier Briand)