Two missing Kentucky residents have ditched one stolen vehicle in Georgia and might have switched to another, Grayson County, Ky., Sheriff Norman Chaffins said Thursday.
Cheyenne Phillips, 13, and Dalton Hayes, 18, have been missing from Grayson County since early this month. And Chaffins says he's getting increasingly concerned because they could be headed into serious trouble.
"I don't think they know where they are going, to be honest with you," he said Thursday. "I think they're just driving, and it's getting increasingly dangerous for them."
Chaffins said the teens ditched a stolen red Toyota pickup they had been driving in Henry County, Ga., south of Atlanta. He said they now might be driving another truck that disappeared in that area about the time the Toyota was left.
The second truck, a silver 2001 Toyota Tundra, had two handguns in the back: a .45-caliber and a .38 Special. It has a Georgia license plate number of CR116I
The red Toyota also had a gun on board when it was stolen, police have said.
If the teens did take the truck in Georgia, it would be the third vehicle they've stolen since vanishing from Grayson County earlier this month, Chaffins said.
Kentucky authorities said Cheyenne Phillips' father reported her missing from their home in Grayson County on Jan. 3. Shortly afterward, officials determined that she was in the company of Hayes, also from Grayson County. Hayes is wanted for custodial interference and other offenses, officials have said.
Authorities confirmed that the Kentucky teens were seen in Manning, S.C., on Monday, driving the red Toyota, which had been stolen from Kentucky.
Manning Police Chief Blair Shaffer told The State newspaper in South Carolina on Thursday that Hayes and Phillips apparently bought some mints at a Wal-Mart there, using stolen checks. They wrote two separate checks for $20 each over the amount, taking a total of $40 in cash, Shaffer said.
He told The State that the pair probably were no longer in the area.
"If these kids are around and they are reading this story, call us at the police department," Shaffer told the newspaper. "These two kids need some help, and I know their parents are worried for them."
Chaffins, the Grayson County sheriff, said later Thursday that the red Toyota had turned up in Georgia.
He said that as far as he knows, the two have made no attempt to contact their parents back in Kentucky.
"The families are working with us; we just want to get them home safely," he said.
Chaffins said he thinks the pair probably took to the road initially with no plan in mind, but now they might be "making up a plan as they go."
Authorities said that anyone who sees them should contact the nearest law enforcement agency.
Phillips was last reported wearing a black, long-sleeve shirt, black sweatpants, and brown and pink cowboy boots. Hayes was reported wearing light-colored, dirty blue jeans, black tennis shoes and a University of Kentucky Wildcats short-sleeve shirt.
The situation is getting more serious as time passes, Chaffins said.
"These are two local kids that everybody here knows," he said. "But now, they're in another state where people don't know them. Other law enforcement agencies don't know them, so they're certainly going to be treated differently there.
"We think it's important for them to get back home, because they're starting to bite off a little more than they can chew. Our concern is that they could get themselves hemmed up in something that they ... We just don't want them to get hurt."