The father of a 13-year-old girl who police say went on a multistate 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 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.