The most-wanted fugitive in America shot himself dead and the two girls he was suspected of kidnapping were alive on Thursday, ending a drama that began with the killing of the girls' mother and older sister.
Adam Mayes, 35, shot himself in the head after Mississippi state game wardens came across him and the girls hiding in the woods, said Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards, who arrived on the scene while Mayes was still alive but fatally wounded.
"The girls are safe. He is deceased," FBI Special Agent Joel Siskovic said.
Mayes was pronounced dead at Baptist Hospital from a 9mm gunshot wound that passed from his right temple through the other side of his head, Union County Deputy Coroner Rob Anderson said.
The two girls, Alexandria Bain, 12, and Kyliyah Bain, 8, were hungry but getting medical attention, Edwards said. They had with them a jug of water.
"I told them it's going to be OK. I gave them a big hug ... When I seen these kids, it was a huge relief," Edwards told Reuters.
Authorities say Mayes killed Jo Ann Bain, 31, and her oldest daughter Adrienne Bain, 14, on April 27, taking the two younger girls with him.
The bodies of the mother and older daughter were found in shallow graves on property belonging to Mayes' mother in Guntown, Mississippi, last weekend.
Authorities described Mayes as a friend to the Bain family, but the relationship went terribly wrong when the Bains planned to move to Arizona. The husband reported his wife and three girls went missing on April 27 when Mayes was helping them move.
The FBI was offering a $100,000 reward for Mayes and on Wednesday placed him on the bureau's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List," saying he ranked No. 1 on the list.
The FBI reward was in addition to $71,000 already offered by other sources for Mayes' capture and conviction.
Various state and local agencies including the game warden joined the pursuit, and they had previously combed the woods where Mayes was found, Edwards said.
The site where Mayes shot himself is about 75 milessouth of the Tennessee town of Whiteville where the Bains lived.