Dalton Hayes, one of the Kentucky teenagers standing accused of a string of crimes committed all over the South, revealed a darker motive behind the spree.
In a jailhouse interview, Dalton claims that he and his 13-year-old girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, were trying to escape her abusive family. Hayes informed the News Herald of Panama City that the two teens had simply wanted to escape Phillips’ family, whom he claims beat her, and were hoping to make it to Miami, Florida.
As previously reported by the Inquistr, the two teens engaged in a multi-state crime spree that included stealing vehicles and pilfering checks. The two teens began their run from the law earlier in January, when they vanished from their hometown of Leitchfield, Kentucky. According to Hayes, the two weeks the teens spent on the run took them through South Carolina and Georgia, and included a night of sleeping in a frigid barn before heading for the warmer climate of Florida.
Beyond getting to Miami, Hayes admits that the two had no further plans. Hayes did admit to regretting the crimes they committed — but not their reason for running.
“All I had to do was tell her to go home and none of this would’ve happened, but it’s hard to tell someone getting beat on to go home. But, if I could go back, I’d be paying for bus rides instead of stealing trucks.”
Hayes says that he and his young girlfriend never intended to hurt anyone, but that he could not leave Cheyenne “to fend on her own.”
Despite being compared to Bonnie and Clyde multiple times in the media, Hayes says, “It ain’t like we were killing cops and robbing stores. We just went on a few high-speed chases.”
Hayes says he did not know of his girlfriend’s extreme youth until just days before the couple ran away. Tammy Martin, his mother, backs that claim up. She said the two have only been dating for three months, and that Cheyenne had claimed to be 19 years of age. Martin says by the time her son found out that she was, in fact, merely 13, “he was already done in love with her.”
Neither the authorities or those close to the couple were aware of any abuse allegations; sheriff Norman Chaffins says they are “something we’ll talk about when they get back to Kentucky.” Hayes’ mother said she did not know of any abuse allegations, either.
“I have no idea about any of that…. She was here pretty much every day,” Martin said. “I never got any hints of that whatsoever. Met both her mother and father, and they both seem like, you know, nice people.”
Dalton Hayes faces additional charges in his hometown, as well, for burglary and theft charges in his home county, after being arrested late last year.
[Image via NBC News]