The father of a 13-year-old girl who police say went on a multistate crime spree with her older boyfriend said on Tuesday that he is not angry with the 18-year-old.
Cheyenne Phillips, 13, and Dalton Hayes, 18, were arrested on Saturday last week in Panama City Beach, Florida, after authorities found them sleeping in a vehicle that had been reported stolen.
“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, 38, told reporters.
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,” Phillips said.
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 said were beating her — and planned to make it to Miami. Officials and others said on 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 that he and his former wife divorced before Cheyenne Phillips was born. He said he and his grandparents have raised her since she was three on their farm near Clarkson, where he said Cheyenne had everything she could ever want.
However, he said that Cheyenne would often lie to him. Still, she had a 9pm curfew on school nights and a 10pm 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 reporters.
He said he was unaware of any previous accusations of abuse.
The alleged 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 US$50,000 cash bond and has a court hearing scheduled for today.
The pair’s travels took them to South Carolina and Georgia and included a night in a frigid barn, Hayes said.
Hayes agreed in court on Monday to return to Kentucky to face charges. He is expected to be charged with burglary, theft, criminal trespassing and criminal mischief.
Cheyenne Phillips is to face charges in juvenile court. Florida’s Department of Children and Families took her to a safe house to make arrangements to return home.
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