CRIME

Teen charged in South crime spree: Girlfriend's abusive family was motive for running away

  • Dalton Hayes wears shackles at the Bay County Jail, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Panama City, Fla. Hayes, an 18-year-old suspected of committing a string of crimes with his 13-year-old girlfriend, agreed during a court hearing to return to his home state of Kentucky to face charges. (AP Photo/News Herald, Andrew Wardlow)

    Dalton Hayes wears shackles at the Bay County Jail, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Panama City, Fla. Hayes, an 18-year-old suspected of committing a string of crimes with his 13-year-old girlfriend, agreed during a court hearing to return to his home state of Kentucky to face charges. (AP Photo/News Herald, Andrew Wardlow)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this frame grab from video provided by the Bay County Courthouse, Dalton Hayes appears in court via a video link-up between the Bay County Jail and the Bay County Courthouse, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Panama City, Fla. Hayes and his girlfriend Cheyenne Phillips were arrested early Sunday in Panama City Beach, and are suspected of committing a string of crimes. (AP Photo/Bay County Courthouse)

    In this frame grab from video provided by the Bay County Courthouse, Dalton Hayes appears in court via a video link-up between the Bay County Jail and the Bay County Courthouse, Monday, Jan. 19, 2015, in Panama City, Fla. Hayes and his girlfriend Cheyenne Phillips were arrested early Sunday in Panama City Beach, and are suspected of committing a string of crimes. (AP Photo/Bay County Courthouse)  (The Associated Press)

A Kentucky teenager accused of a string of crimes across the South says he and his girlfriend were trying to escape her abusive family and that he wishes he had bought bus tickets instead of stealing trucks as they moved toward Florida.

Officials say 18-year-old Dalton Hayes and his girlfriend, 13-year-old Cheyenne Phillips, began their run this month when they vanished from Leitchfield, Kentucky.

Hayes tells The News Herald (http://bit.ly/1CKBaWL ) of Panama City they planned to make it to Miami.

He says that if he could go back, he'd take the bus instead.

Officials recognized Phillips leaving a store Saturday. Authorities then found the pair sleeping in a stolen car.

Hayes agreed in court Monday to return to Kentucky to face charges.

An official there tells The Associated Press the abuse allegations will be discussed when the pair is back in the state.