Tarrant County, Texas Sheriff Dee Anderson believes that not only is “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch on the run, his mother might be actively helping him escape apprehension.
According to CBS News, Tarrant County authorities released images of a black pickup truck they say belongs to Ethan Couch’s mother, Tonya. On Monday, a missing person report was filed for Tonya, who Anderson said likely fled with her son Ethan in her black pickup truck. He said that officials were trying to “account for everything that’s possible.” At the moment, the whereabouts of the vehicle is something the Texas officials cannot account for. With Tonya Couch also missing, it’s theorized that she and her son are together.
However, there’s a chance this might not be the case. Dee Anderson admitted that though he strongly believes Ethan and Tonya Couch are together, there’s no “concrete evidence” to support this theory. At least, not yet.
— ABC News (@ABC) December 18, 2015
Ethan Couch is wanted by Tarrant County officials because he violated his probation. The fact that Couch is even on probation, rather than in jail, is itself a source of significant controversy. Couch was arrested and charged with killing four pedestrians during a drunk-driving wreck. Ethan reportedly lost control of his truck and “plowed into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stalled.”
At the time of the incident, Couch had a blood alcohol content level three times the legal limit for an adult. He also had Valium in his system.
According to the Associated Press, his lawyer was able to argue that Ethan Couch suffered from “affluenza,” saying the teen’s wealthy parents coddled him and left him unable to make responsible decisions. The case, which received national attention, resulted in a 10-year probation sentence for Couch.
It’s an outcome that Sheriff Dee Anderson never supported. Anderson said Monday that the case was “[obviously] very very important” to his agency. It was his deputies who had to investigate the crime scene that Dee stated “resulted from the irresponsible decision that Ethan Couch made.”
— CNN (@CNN) December 21, 2015
Because of the controversial nature of the probation sentence, it seemed almost unfathomable that Ethan would act out in a way that could put him in danger of actually going to jail. Yet, that seems to be exactly what happened.
A video surfaced that allegedly showed the teen at a party where drinking games were being played. Underage drinking would certainly be a violation of his probation. However, it turns out that the video isn’t why Couch is being sought.
According to Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson, “The problem for [Ethan]… is that he’s not here. Juveniles have to ask for permission to leave the county.”
As a condition of his probation, Couch is supposed to check in regularly with his probation officer. He hasn’t been in touch for nearly two weeks.
With Texas being right next door to Mexico, it’s possible that not only is Ethan no longer in the county, he may no longer even be in the country.
— Lauren Zakalik (@wfaalauren) December 21, 2015
Ethan Couch may have avoided serious jail time in 2013, but this incident could lead to serious consequences for the teen. In November, a request was made to move Couch’s case to adult court, as Ethan is now legally an adult. Should the transfer attempt prove successful, the punishment for probation violation would be more severe and likely result in jail time.
Texas authorities are working with U.S. Marshals and the FBI to apprehend Ethan. They’re also offering a $5,000 reward for any information that would lead to Couch’s apprehension. Officials claim that they’ve received hundreds of tips. For now, the strongest lead seems to be Tonya Couch’s truck, which Anderson described as the “one thing we can’t account for.”
Tonya Coach owns a black 2011 Ford F-150 pickup truck. Authorities say that it is a “Harley Davidson-themed special edition with 23-inch chrome wheels, and Texas License Plate BC-50945.”
Anyone with information regarding Ethan Couch, Tonya Couch, or Couch’s pickup truck are encouraged to contact Tarrant County officials immediately.
[Image via U.S. Marshals Service/AP]