An 18-year-old Kentucky man who was nabbed by police after a nearly two-week, multi-state crime spree with his 13-year-old girlfriend has been charged with a slate of crimes, including statutory rape.
A tearful Dalton Hayes appeared in a Kentucky court on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include burglary, theft, custodial interference, criminal mischief, criminal trespassing and second- and third-degree rape, according to ABC affiliate WHAS.
Hayes and Cheyenne Phillips, the 13-year-old girl he had been dating for about three months, disappeared in early January and, according to police, spent about a week bouncing around abandoned homes in Kentucky. On Jan. 11, they escaped from the state using a stolen vehicle and later withdrew money using stolen checks.
Police followed their trail, finding evidence of their whereabouts in South Carolina, Georgia and, finally, Florida, where the couple — dubbed a “teen Bonnie and Clyde” by national television networks — was finally captured early Sunday morning. They were detained in Panama City Beach while sleeping in a vehicle that they’d stolen in Georgia, according to police.
Hayes and his mother, Tammy Martin, claimed they had no idea that his girlfriend was just 13.
“I asked her how old she was, and she said she was 18 for the longest time,” Hayes told Florida station WMBB in a jailhouse interview. “See, she told me she had a truck, had a license, all that good stuff.”
“She had [a] fake 18 she’d show me,” he added. “She had jobs she’d show me.”
Hayes reportedly posted on his Facebook page that he and Phillips were engaged. According to Martin, Phillips has claimed that she is pregnant.
“When she first told my son that she was pregnant, she shouldn’t have been but three weeks pregnant or something, and she sent him an ultrasound picture via a text — and that was not her pregnancy picture,” Martin told CBS.
Phillips is expected to face charges in juvenile court.
The teen girl was reported missing by her family on Jan. 4. Police say she and her 18-year-old boyfriend were in the state for about a week before attempting to steal a truck. After a police chase, the couple abandoned that vehicle, then stole another one and escaped. They were seen Jan. 12 entering a Wal-Mart in South Carolina, where police said they used stolen checks to withdraw cash.
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In Georgia, they allegedly stole another vehicle; this time, police were alarmed to learn that there were two weapons and ammunition inside.
“I do believe them to be a danger now because the vehicle they stole has weapons in it,” Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins told The Post last week.
Hayes, however, says that they never intended to do anything violent. He has claimed that the teens were trying to escape Cheyenne’s family by running away to Miami.
“It ain’t like we were killing cops and robbing stores,” Hayes told the Panama City News Herald. “We just went on a few high-speed chases.”
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