US ‘crime spree’ teenagers caught

Published: Monday 19th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Two teenage sweethearts suspected in a crime spree of stolen vehicles and pilfered cheques around the south east of America have been caught in Florida.

Eighteen-year-old Dalton Hayes and his 13-year-old girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, were arrested without incident before dawn yesterday in Panama City Beach, according to authorities.

The two had eluded police in several states while raising alarm.

“I spoke to Dalton and he was very scared and he wanted to come home,” said Norman Chaffins, the sheriff of Grayson County, Kentucky, where the teenagers live. “He wanted me to come bring him home.”

The teenagers should be extradited back to Kentucky by the end of the week, Mr Chaffins told the Associated Press.

Hayes was scheduled to make a court appearance via video link, according to the Bay County jail records in the Panama City area. Hayes was being held on a charge of custodial interference.

Florida’s Department of Children & Families was called to assist Panama City Beach Police but Phillips was not in the state’s custody, said DaMonica Rivas, a DCF spokeswoman.

“The juvenile has been taken to a safe location until arrangements with the family are made,” Ms Rivas said.

Authorities said the US Marshal’s Service and Panama City Beach Police discovered Hayes and Phillips asleep in a car stolen from Georgia.

In Kentucky, the two teenagers will face charges including burglary, theft, criminal trespassing and criminal mischief, Mr Chaffins told the Associated Press. Phillips will face charges in juvenile court because she is a minor.

Mr Chaffins said he was relieved the crime spree ended peacefully. If the couple had not been found asleep and surrounded, he said, they may have run again.

Hayes and Phillips began their run from the law and their families earlier this month when they vanished from their small hometown in western Kentucky. Authorities believe their travels took them to South Carolina and Georgia.

Hayes’s mother, Tammy Martin, had urged her son and his companion to surrender and “face the consequences”.

Ms Martin said the couple had been dating for about three months. She said the girl portrayed herself as being 19 and the family, including Hayes, believed her.

Cheyenne “would go in and write cheques, and she would come out with cigarettes and stuff, so I didn’t have any reason not to believe she wasn’t 19”, Ms Martin said.

By the time her son realised she was a mere 13 “he was already done in love with her”, Ms Martin said.

When he hit the road, Hayes was running away from trouble back home. He faces burglary and theft charges in his home county, stemming from an arrest late last year, according to Grayson County court records.

Mr Chaffins said the couple’s behaviour had become “increasingly brazen and dangerous”.

Twice the teenagers were able to evade law officers in Kentucky. They crashed the first truck they stole and hid in the woods. Then they later stole another truck nearby, Mr Chaffins said.

Published: Monday 19th January 2015 by The News Editor

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