NEWBERRY, S.C. (AP) - A 16-year-old wanted in the killing of his father in Tennessee hid from police dogs, officers and helicopters in central South Carolina with three of his friends for 10 hours Thursday before they were caught, police said.
The four teens planned to go to Myrtle Beach, but that trip was derailed around 5:30 a.m. when a trooper spotted their van at a rest area and started a chase that ended in a wreck and the suspects running into the woods, according to the police account.
The search ended around 3:30 p.m. when a strawberry farmer saw teens hiding in one of his fields. He called police, and the teens ran when they heard law enforcement approaching, Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said.
A helicopter followed them and they stopped running, waiting for officers to catch up and take them into custody. The suspects, two 15-year-old boys and a 16-year-old boy and girl, were scratched up from running but not seriously hurt, Foster said.
“They all ran,” Foster said. “And they all stuck together.”
Officers had worried the suspects, who are 15 and 16 years old, were heavily armed. They took at least eight guns from Tennessee, and four pistols were missing from their van after it crashed, Foster said. But no guns were found on them when they were arrested and one of the suspects told deputies they threw the pistols into a creek.
The father, a 36-year-old man from Greeneville, Tenn., was found shot to death in his home around 11 p.m. Wednesday and his van was missing, deputies in Greene County, Tenn., said. They did not give a motive for the killing.
Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation drove down to Newberry and are questioning the teens, Foster said. It will be up to the out-of-state authorities to decide whether the suspects are tried as adults, he said.
Investigators think the 16-year-old killed his father and then met up with three others to run away to Myrtle Beach. The families of the three teens reported them missing this morning, Foster said.
“They were aware of what went on,” Foster said. “It’s just a question right now of when they found out.”
A South Carolina trooper spotted the teens in the van about seven hours after the father was found dead at a rest area on Interstate 26 in Newberry, about 175 miles south of Greeneville. Before he could arrest the teens, they drove off, Foster said.
Troopers and deputies chased it down I-26, through the city of Newberry and down a two-lane road out of town. A deputy used spikes to puncture the tires, but the teens ran from the van into the woods and a swamp nearby, the sheriff said.
No one was hurt in the chase, the sheriff said.
The teens were talking to people back in Tennessee as they drove south, but all of their cellphones were found in the van after it crashed, the sheriff said.
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