Cheyenne Phillips, 13, and her 18-year old boyfriend Dalton Hayes went missing two weeks ago. Police are now searching for the pair – who are considered to be dangerous — and they’ve been guided by a trail of criminal activity and surveillance video that stretches through at least four states.
“They are getting increasingly brazen and hopefully they’ll come to their sense and turn themselves,” Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins told The Washington Post on Friday.
The teens, dubbed a teen Bonnie and Clyde by national television networks, haven’t been dating long, their parents said. But they disappeared almost two weeks ago, and police said they stole vehicles to make their escape.
But what has alarmed authorities is that the teens appeared to have ditched one stolen vehicle for another — this one with .45-caliber handgun, a .38 special handgun sitting in the backseat, and ammunition.
Chaffins said he believes they are now potentially a danger to others.
“I do believe them to be a danger now because the vehicle they stole has weapons in it,” Chaffins said.
They were last spotted somewhere in Florida on Friday, though Chaffins said he did not want to tip them off by disclosing the specific town. Florida authorities are in the process of searching for them, Chaffins said.
Cheyenne’s father, who reported her missing, said that when his daughter left the house on Jan. 3, it seemed that nothing was amiss. That night, she stayed at Hayes’s home, his mother, Tammy Martin, told ABC affiliate WHAS.
Martin said the two had been dating for three months and that she was close to Cheyenne, who she believed was 19, according to WHAS. It is unclear whether Cheyenne’s parents knew that Hayes was 18 years old.
Martin returned home the following day, Jan. 4, after hearing Cheyenne had been reported missing, but they were already gone.
Two days later, Hayes texted his mother: “It says ‘Mommy, don’t worry. I’m fine, okay — plenty of money and food. Love you, good night, sweet dreams,’” she told reporters.
Police believe that, for a while at least, the couple bounced around between friends and family then stayed in abandoned homes and trailers in Kentucky. But on Jan. 11, things took a turn to the criminal.
Jim and Kathy McGrew returned to their home in rural Kentucky from church and heard a loud bang.
“It sounded like a bomb went off, but it was the door hitting the building,” Jim McGrew told WAVE. It was Cheyenne and Hayes stealing a tan Toyota Tundra from their garage, he said.
The couple led police and McGrew – a trained pilot who tried to follow them in his airplane – on a wild chase to a nearby farm and through the woods, where they abandoned the stolen truck and took off.
Later that day, the two teens stole another vehicle, this time a red Toyota Tacoma that they would use to cross state lines, police said. That vehicle had an unloaded long gun in the back, which police were later able to recover.
On Monday, police spotted them driving into the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in South Carolina in the stolen Toyota. They allegedly bought some mints and used two stolen checks for $20 each to get cash back.
By Thursday, they were in Georgia, where they ditched the Toyota and allegedly stole another: a silver Toyota Tundra with a certified firefighter license plate.
Hayes was out on bond on a felony burglary charge, which carries a sentence of one to five years. He was also a suspect in a second burglary, Chaffins said.
“I think he’s run off because he didn’t want to face the charges in Kentucky. I think she’s with him because she’s infatuated with an 18-year old,” Chaffins said.
He could now face charges in several states associated with the automobile thefts, and Chaffins said he could potentially face other charges associated with his relationship with Cheyenne, who is a minor.