LEITCHFIELD, Ky. (AP) -- Two Kentucky teenagers who vanished nearly two weeks ago are suspected in a multi-state crime spree that had police desperately searching for the couple—an 18-year-old and a 13-year-old girl he had been dating for months.
Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins said the couple, Dalton Hayes and Cheyenne Phillips, disappeared Jan. 3 from their small hometown in western Kentucky. Since then, authorities believe the couple has traveled to South Carolina and Georgia. Along the way, they’re suspected of stealing multiple vehicles and using stolen checks, law enforcement officials said.
Hayes’ mother said the girl had portrayed herself as being 19 years old.
“She would go in and write checks and she would come out with cigarettes and stuff, so I didn’t have any reason not to believe she wasn’t 19. Because normally you can’t buy cigarettes when you’re 13 years old,” Tammy Martin said.
Chaffins said the couple’s behavior is “becoming increasingly brazen and dangerous,” and he said they had evaded law enforcement twice. The sheriff said he believes Hayes is calling the shots as the teens try to stay ahead of the law.
“He’s a hard-headed kid,” the sheriff said. “He does have issues with authority. Very rarely does he take responsibility for what he’s done, and he has a history of making bad choices.”
Hayes’ mother urged the young couple to turn themselves in and “face the consequences.”
“I pretty much cry myself to sleep every night worrying about where they are, and if a police officer or any random individual tries to pull them over and isn’t so nice and hurts them,” she said.
The young couple had been dating for about three months and liked to hang out and watch movies at the Martins’ home, Tammy Martin said.
“She was here like every single day for the past three months when they started dating,” she said.
The two were spotted Monday at a Wal-Mart in South Carolina. On Thursday, authorities in Georgia found the vehicle they had been using abandoned, and another vehicle with guns was reported stolen nearby.
Chaffins said authorities now believe the two are traveling in a 2001 Silver Toyota Tundra with Georgia license plate CR116I.
Chaffins said anyone who spots the couple should call 911. The situation is getting more serious as more time passes, he said.
“This is not a game to us,” Chaffins said. “Our biggest fear is that Dalton is not going to stop for the police, he’s going to run every time they approach him and they get in a pursuit. When a pursuit starts and somebody is not going to stop, the outcome is usually not a good one.”