Guntown Reacts After Manhunt for Murderer and Kidnapper is OverBy Sandra Knispel | Published 14 May 2012 09:07am |
The small northeast Mississippi community of Guntown is slowly returning to normal. That’s after hundreds of FBI agents, together with SWAT teams, and local and state law enforcement had searched desperately for the kidnapped 8 and 12-year-old Bain sisters from Tennessee last week. The hunt started after the bodies of their mother and older sister were discovered right behind the suspect’s trailer near Guntown. MPB’s Sandra Knispel has more...
The tranquil, small-town way of life in Guntown was shattered when hundreds of law enforcement officers began the manhunt for 35-year-old Adam Mayes that started when Jo Ann Bain and her three daughters disappeared from their Tennessee home on April 27th.
“The FBI, they had SWAT out, they had pretty much a tent city going on over at the park over the last few days,” says Lisa Cates. Her son Jerry chimes in, “They had the park set up where you would think it’s a camp ground basically.”
Lisa and Jerry Cates are Guntown residents. Eating lunch at Hot off the Grill on Friday, the locals here talked about little else. Just the night before, the two younger Bain daughters had been recovered safely when the suspect, surrounded by authorities, killed himself, the girls cowering at his feet. Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards was at the scene near Zion Hill Baptist Church in the Alpine Community, just some five miles outside of Guntown.
Reporter: “You guys all along had the hunch that he was still in the area, that he had not gone far away.” “Well, we didn’t believe he had,“ replies Sheriff Edwards. “We had nothing at all that led us anywhere other than here, that’s why we continued to focus here.“
When the 8 and the 12-year-old surviving sisters were found, they appeared exhausted but relieved.
Reporter: “I understand that they were dehydrated, that they were thirsty and hungry when you found them?" "They were," Edwards confirms. "You know they had been exposed to the elements, and insects and bugs and they were obviously hungry and thirsty.”
Three days after the family had disappeared in Tennessee, Mayes was captured on a Guntown store surveillance camera. In the video, he spoke to Nick Barghouthi who’s the manager at the gas station County Line #1, which locals simply refer to by its color as the yellow store. That was the last time Mayes was seen until his eventual suicide Thursday night.
“He acted very normal. All I noticed was that he had his ponytail cut off," Barghouti recalls. "So I told him ‘Hey, I thought you liked it.’ He said, ‘It’s too hot, so I had to get rid of it.’ He just bought a bottle of coke and walked out.”
Reporter: “So, you actually know him?” Barghouthi replies, “Yeah. He comes here like once, twice a week. He used to. He mainly buy [sic] beer. That day he only bought that coke and walked out.”
Reporter: “In hindsight did you ever think anything was odd about him, anything was off?” “The only thing that was off was his hair was cut off, that’s all” says Barghouthi. “And that was three days after he killed them. So, when he came by it was like 5 o’clock. He was here like for two minutes, then he walked out.”
Barely half a mile earlier, also on 348, sits Billie’s Catering, a small white house with a large kitchen, an office and several adjacent rooms.
Here, owner Billie Robison and her employee Jami Williams, who is the bookkeeper and cook, go over bills and receipts Friday afternoon. Williams, who spends long hours during the day alone here, says she was scared:
“I had a gun loaded within arm’s reach all week long and had the doors locked.”
Forgetting that there was a manhunt going on right outside her kitchen window was impossible.
“When they would switch shifts it would be 20 to 30 law enforcement vehicles pass by at a high rate of speed… and all day long. You couldn’t forget about it, because all day long you would hear them just flying by," Williams recalls. "And of course every time they would fly by you would think ‘Do they know something, have they found something? Or what’s going on now?’ And it would just reinforce your need to get your gun and move it a little bit closer. Because obviously this man has nothing to lose at this point, so we considered him a threat to everyone.”
Life before the manhunt was tranquil, according William’s boss, Billie Robison.
"We don’t lock our vehicles, we don’t take our keys out of our vehicles. You know this is out in the country," Robison explains.
Meanwhile, Williams says, she’s glad the sisters are o.k. and the nightmare finally over.
I was very relieved. I mean I went to bed last night and I slept like a log. And when I came into work I did not have to clear the place before I could go to work,” says Williams. Reporter: “What do you mean ‘clear the place’?” “You walk through with your gun,” Williams explains, “and check nobody is here.”
By Friday afternoon, the gun was no longer lying on the stainless steel countertop and the backdoor to Billie’s Catering was unlocked.. just the way it had been before.
Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Guntown
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