MAYPEARL, Texas (AP) – A teen who stole medication and a cache of weapons and ammunition from his parents’ home in Oklahoma had a history of running away, but authorities still don’t know why he and a friend may have been trying to break into a Texas home where they ultimately died after a botched break-in.
Authorities believe Kenneth Chaffin, 17, ran away from his home in Bethel Acres, Okla., on Monday. A national alert was issued Wednesday morning. That afternoon, Chaffin and friend Dillian King, 18, died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds 250 miles away from Bethel Acres on a remote ranch in Maypearl, Texas, authorities said.
A woman at the home noticed someone in a camouflage vest at her back door on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said. She called her husband, who came home and fired at the teens with two deer rifles, hitting one. By the time Ellis County sheriff’s deputies arrived, both teens were dead.
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown said he was still waiting for confirmation from the Dallas County Medical Examiner, where the autopsies are being done, but did not expect to file any charges.
Brown said his deputies were still trying to figure out why the teenagers would have chosen that home, which is about 40 miles south of Dallas and located in the middle of a fenced-off ranch with donkeys grazing outside. Bullet holes riddle the walls of the home, Brown said.
“Unfortunately, the answers to those questions died when they did, because we don’t have a clue why they were out there in that area,” Brown said in an interview Thursday. “It’s beyond me why they would be that far out other than they were looking to take something, or do harm.”
Chaffin and King were driving a 1991 Ford Ranger pickup truck and had a stash of prescription medication, 17 guns and 2,000 rounds of ammunition. It wasn’t immediately known what kind of medication they had.
Pottawatomie County, Okla., Undersheriff J.T. Palmer said Thursday that Chaffin had a history of running away.
“We were taking a calculated risk of violating state law in putting (Chaffin’s) name out,” Palmer said. “We had to get mom and dad’s written permission to even release his picture yesterday and we did that in a time frame as quick as we thought we could.
“You don’t want to jump too quick. He’s a runaway and he has a history of running away before.”
Palmer said Chaffin and King were identified through photographs and because King had distinctive tattoos on the webbing of his fingers.
The teens lived about a mile apart in Bethel Acres but authorities had no idea the two were together when Chaffin was reported missing, Palmer said, adding that King was not reported missing.
“We didn’t actually know there was a second one until we got the call from Ellis County, Texas, that two suspects were killed,” Palmer said.
Chaffin’s father, Roland Chaffin, told The Oklahoman that his son had never been in trouble with the law and had no family problems before he ran away.
“Kenneth was a follower, not a leader. That’s what we figure. He followed someone and got in over his head,” Roland Chaffin said.
Phone calls to the teens’ families by The Associated Press were not answered.
“My son’s not an angel. I’m not saying that he is,” Roland Chaffin told the newspaper. “But the Kenneth we know was not capable of this.”
Associated Press writers Justin Juozapavicius in Tulsa, Okla., Ken Miller in Oklahoma City, Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Ark., and Terry Wallace in Dallas contributed to this report.
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