As police across the South search for a teenage couple on the run, a mother in Kentucky has a message for her son.
“We know they’ve done wrong but you need to step up and take the consequences of what you done and come home before someone is really, really hurt,” Tammy Martin, mother of Dalton Hayes, told CNN affiliate WAVE.
Hayes, 18, and Cheyenne Phillips, 13, are suspected of stealing three cars — two with guns inside — and are the subject of a law enforcement search that stretches from Kentucky to Georgia — and maybe on to Florida.
“I don’t know why they’re doing it,” Martin said. “I just wish they would turn themselves in.”
Martin said that until recently she and her son thought Phillips was much older than 13, WAVE reported. The couple had not been dating long, she said.
Phillips’ mother, Sherry Peters, says she, too, wants her child to come home.
“I really want them to just turn themselves in,” she said. “I haven’t been sleeping very well lately.”
Hayes and Phillips are “increasingly brazen and dangerous,” Sheriff Norman Chaffins of Grayson County, Kentucky, said in a press release.
“I know Dalton and he has a history of making bad, bad decisions,” said Chaffins, sheriff for the county of about 25,000 people in central Kentucky. “I was the school resource officer before I was elected sheriff. Dalton is known to have disciplinary and defiance issues at the high school with authority.”
Hayes was recently charged with burglary and was out on bond, the sheriff said. He’s worried things will end badly as the two get farther and farther from home.
“They are in strange territory,” Chaffins said. “We are a local, tight-knit community here, we just want them home … other agencies see them as criminals stealing cars. They would be treated differently than they would be in our county.”
It was not clear whether any formal charges have been filed against either teen. The sheriff has referred to them several times as “suspects.”
Cheyenne’s father reported her missing January 3 from Clarkson, Kentucky. Chaffins said she was thought to be in the company of Hayes.
Chaffins said the couple first stole a truck in Clarkson. Jim McGrew, its owner, told WAVE the teens took the truck out of his garage and sped down the road before crashing into a fence and fleeing on foot.
Police searched and McGrew said he flew his private plane to look for the couple.
The wreck caused about $7,100 in damage to the truck, McGrew told WAVE.
An hour later, the couple stole a 2006 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck with a firearm inside, Chaffins said.
Both teens are suspects in the two felony auto thefts and Hayes is wanted for custodial interference.
“It is imperative that these two be located and apprehended as their behavior is becoming increasingly brazen and dangerous,” the sheriff said in a press release.
On Wednesday, the sheriff’s department said the couple was spotted on security-camera video at a Walmart store in Manning, South Carolina. The girl was wearing pink cowboy boots, and the man with her was dressed in a dark-colored University of Kentucky T-shirt, the department said.
On Thursday, authorities said the Toyota Tacoma pickup stolen in Kentucky was recovered in Henry County, Georgia, just south of Atlanta.
A silver 2001 Toyota Tundra pickup with a Georgia certified firefighter license plate was reported stolen from the area around the same time. That truck had two handguns — a .38-caliber and .a 45-caliber — inside, the sheriff’s department said.
The sheriff said the two teens may be headed to Florida.
“They are becoming increasingly desperate and we just hope they have enough sense to do the right thing,” he said.
Martin told WAVE she last heard from her son in a January 6 text message.
“It says ‘Mommy, don’t worry. I’m fine, okay — plenty of money and food. Love you, good night, sweet dreams,'” Martin said.