CLARKSON, Ky. — The father of a 13-year-old girl who police say went on a multi-state crime spree with her older boyfriend said Tuesday that he is not angry with the 18-year-old.
Cheyenne Phillips, 13, and Dalton Hayes, 18, were arrested late Saturday in Panama City Beach, Florida, after authorities found them sleeping in a stolen vehicle.
"I don't have anything against him. I'm not upset with this boy. He's a boy. And apparently he thinks something of my daughter. He's just not thinking clearly," Shawn Phillips told The Associated Press.
Shawn Phillips also denied as "completely bogus" Hayes' allegation that Cheyenne Phillips told him she had been abused at home.
"Anyone that knows us knows better. My family is pretty well-respected in the community," said Phillips, 38.
Hayes made the abuse allegations during a jailhouse interview with The News Herald of Panama City, telling the paper they just wanted to escape Phillips' family, who she claimed were beating her, and planned to make it to Miami. Officials and others said Tuesday that they did not know of any allegations of abuse.
"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," Hayes said. "But, if I could go back, I'd be paying for bus rides instead of stealing trucks."
Shawn Phillips said he and his wife divorced before Cheyenne Phillips was born. He said he and his grandparents have raised her since she was 3 on their farm near Clarkson, where he said Cheyenne had everything she could ever want. But he said Cheyenne would often lie to him. Still, she had a 9 p.m. curfew on school nights and a 10 p.m. curfew on weekends, rules that she never broke.
The abuse allegations are "something we'll talk about when they get back to Kentucky," Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins told The Associated Press. He said he was unaware of any previous accusations of abuse.
The crime spree started on Jan. 3 when police say Cheyenne Phillips' mother, Sherry Phillips, picked Cheyenne up from her house near Clarkson. Sherry Phillips does not have custody or visitation rights with her daughter, and police arrested her on Monday on a charge of custodial interference. She is in jail on a $50,000 cash bond and has a court hearing scheduled for Thursday morning.
The pair's travels took them to South Carolina and Georgia and included a night in a frigid barn, Hayes said.
Shawn Phillips said police in Breckenridge County caught up with the couple two days after they disappeared, but were unable to catch them. Phillips said he and other family members searched the woods until about 10:30 that night looking for the teens.
Hayes agreed in court Monday to return to Kentucky to face charges. He is expected to be charged in Kentucky with burglary, theft, criminal trespassing and criminal mischief. Phillips will face charges in juvenile court. Florida's Department of Children & Families took Phillips to a safe house to make arrangements to return home.
"It ain't like we were killing cops and robbing stores," unlike the notorious outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, to whom the couple were compared in some media reports, Hayes said. "We just went on a few high-speed chases."
Tammy Martin, Hayes' mother, said the couple had been dating for about three months. She said the girl portrayed herself as being 19. By the time her son realized she was only 13, he was already in love with her, she said.