WHITEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A woman and her three young daughters who authorities say were abducted from Tennessee had recently moved to Arizona because two of the girls had asthma, a family friend said Sunday.
Linda Kirkland a cook at the Country Cafe in Whiteville, Tenn., said that Jo Ann Bain, her husband and three daughters had been back in the Whiteville area to take care of some business after a death in the family. Asthma sufferers have long flocked to Arizona believing the dry, warm climate might ease the condition.
Bain had frequented the restaurant and never indicated anything was wrong.
"She seemed so happy," Kirkland said.
"Jo Ann and the kids, everyone loves them. We're just hoping to hear that they're safe."
Bain's daughters are 14-year-old Adrienne, 12-year-old Alexandria and 8-year-old Kyliyah. Authorities say they are believed to have been abducted by 35-year-old Adam Mayes. He is charged with kidnapping in Tennessee.
The FBI has said two bodies were found at a home connected to Mayes in Mississippi, but agents have released few other details.
Authorities were working Sunday to identify the bodies, which were found in Mississippi, said FBI spokesman Joel Siskovic. He would not say if they were children. They were found late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
The Bains were last seen April 27 in Hardeman County, Tenn., which is about 70 miles east of Memphis. The woman's husband reported her missing, and her vehicle was found abandoned.
Authorities were still trying to determine if Jo Ann Bain went with Mayes willingly.
On Sunday, agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation searched the garage and backyard at the Bain family home. An Associated Press reporter saw the agents searching before being told to leave the street where the home was located.
Mayes was last seen Tuesday in Guntown, Miss., about 80 miles southeast of Hardeman County, Tenn. He'd been described as a family friend.
The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service announced Saturday a reward of up to $50,000 for information that leads to the location of the missing victims and the arrest of Mayes.
Siskovic said the bodies were found in a residence, but it wasn't clear if it was a house, mobile home or apartment. He also wasn't sure if the residence belonged to Mayes or an acquaintance. Siskovic said the bodies were found in Guntown.
Siskovic said authorities talked to Mayes early on in the investigation, but he fled when they tried to contact him again. The FBI says agents were not immediately aware of Mayes having a criminal record.
Melvin Herron, 42, lives next door to the Bain family in Tennessee. He recalled seeing the girls playing outside, running and going down water slides.
Herron said he had met Mayes on several occasions, and that the man apparently "thought the world of those little girls." Mayes often played softball and kickball with the children, Herron said.
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.
Authorities had said that Mayes could be in Mississippi but that he has ties to Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida.
Authorities described Adrienne as a white girl with 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.
Authorities said Mayes may have cut his hair, as well as cut and dyed the girls' hair to disguise their identities.
Anyone with information is asked to call 601-987-1353 or 1-800-TBI-FIND.
Associated Press reporter Holbrook Mohr contributed to this report from Jackson, Miss.