LEITCHFIELD, KY (WAVE) - The Grayson County sheriff said Wednesday that two teens who've been on the run since Jan. 3 have been seen in South Carolina driving a stolen truck.
People spotted Dalton Hayes, 18, and Cheyenne Phillips, 13, at a Walmart store in Manning, S.C., Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins said in a statement released at 10 p.m. Wednesday.
The two were still driving a red 2006 Toyota Tacoma pickup they stole several days ago in Grayson County, Chaffins said. Kentucky authorities have notified police in South Carolina about the case in hopes of finding the teenagers.
Police said the longer Hayes and Phillips are away from home, the more dangerous they may become. Chaffins said the pair have stolen two trucks, and the Toyota had an unloaded gun inside.
The teenagers had recently started dating, Tammy Martin, Hayes' mother, tearfully told reporters Wednesday as she pleaded for her son to come home.
"I don't know why they're doing it," Martin said. "I just wish they would turn themselves in."
Martin said she didn't know Phillips was only 13 years old, and said Hayes didn't know until recently, either.
The couple first stole a truck out of Jim and Kathy McGrew's garage in rural Clarkson. When they got home from church Sunday, they were startled.
"It sounded like a bomb went off, but it was the door hitting the building," said Jim McGrew, describing how the teenagers took off in his truck and down the road, crashing through fences before running into the woods.
Police started to search, but it was slow going. McGrew, an experienced pilot, joined in.
"I told them at that point, 'You might have trouble seeing them, but I won't,'" McGrew said. "I jumped in my plane took off and found them in 20 minutes, but they had already escaped."
The escape caused about $7,100 in damage to the truck, McGrew said.
Later that day, Chaffins said the couple stole the Toyota Tacoma, which had an unloaded long gun inside.
"We're hoping the two of them have enough sense not to do something with that gun and hoping it never comes to that," Chaffins said.
Martin said the last time she heard from Hayes was through a text message on Jan. 6.
"It says ‘Mommy, don't worry. I'm fine, okay -- plenty of money and food. Love you, good night, sweet dreams,'" Martin said, reading the text message on her phone. Recently, her phone calls have gone to voicemail, which is full, she said.
Police said the teenagers' situation will get worse the longer they remain on the run -- especially if law enforcement officials who don't know them personally start chasing them.
"Whatever it is, it can be worked through," Chaffins said. "That's what we want to tell these young people -- we want them to come home."
Martin has a message for her son.
"We know they've done wrong but you need to step up and take consequences of what you done and come home before someone is really, really hurt," Martin said.
Police said Phillips is 5'1'' and weighs 100 pounds with blonde hair and hazel eyes. She was wearing a black long-sleeve shirt, black sweat pants and brown and pink cowboy boots in South Carolina, Chaffins said.
Hayes is 5'10'' and weighs 175 to 180 pounds. He has brown hair – styled either in a buzz cut or a shaved head - and hazel eyes. Hayes was wearing light-colored dirty blue jeans, a University of Kentucky Wildcats shirt and black tennis shoes when people saw him in South Carolina.