“Affluenza Teen” Ethan Couch and his mother were ultimately done in thanks to a phone call to a Puerto Vallarta Domino’s Pizza, the New York Daily News is reporting.
Ethan Couch earned the nickname “Affluenza Teen” in 2013. The wealthy son of a Texas businessman and his socialite wife, Couch was convicted in December, 2013, of getting drunk and plowing into a group of pedestrians, killing four people and injuring nine others. His defense team convinced the judge that, due to his wealthy upbringing and parents who spoiled him and taught him that he could do no wrong, he was incapable of even understanding the difference between right and wrong. That is to say, he suffered from “affluenza.” The judge agreed, and sentenced Couch to 10 years probation. The sentence created a national outrage and earned Couch the nickname “Affluenza teen” – “affluenza” being a portmanteau of the words affluence and influenza.
After video surfaced of Couch appearing to play beer pong at a party — a violation of his parole — Ethan and his mother, Tonya, fled the country. Authorities say that Tonya Couch was, once again, trying to prevent her son from facing the consequences of his actions. So callous were the Couch’s toward the law, say authorities, that the pair even threw something of a “going away party” before fleeing to Mexico, according to Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson.
“They had planned to disappear. They even had something that was almost akin to a going-away party before leaving town.”
So began an international manhunt.
Ethan and Tonya made their way to Puerto Vallarta, a resort community and tourist destination on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
At first, the Couch’s stayed at a tony resort known as Los Tules. A woman who worked at the resort recognized the couple and notified authorities. U.S. and Mexican law enforcement set up surveillance cameras in the area, and started attempting to locate the pair.
Ethan and Tonya eventually left Los Tules and, for reasons that aren’t clear as of this writing, moved into a run-down apartment building (described as “grungy” by the Daily News) in the heart of Puerto Vallarta, instead of taking up residence in another high-dollar beachfront condo.
— NewYork (@NewYorkLoving) December 30, 2015
It would be a decision that ultimately lead to the Couch’s undoing. Though Ethan dyed his hair black to avoid detection, he and his mother stuck out like sore thumbs in an area inhabited by local Mexicans and not American tourists. They spoke little to no Spanish. At one point, Tonya can be seen on surveillance video trying to pay for a purchase in U.S. dollars instead of Mexican pesos.
However, it was a phone call to Domino’s Pizza that led to the pair’s capture. Using one of their own cell phones, authorities were able to track their position and swoop in and arrest the pair. They were arrested without incident.
As of this writing, Tonya Couch has not been charged with any crimes, although authorities say they plan to file charges of “hindering prosecution,” a felony, against her. As for Ethan Couch, he’s likely to get off considerably lighter: because he was a juvenile when he was convicted of his crimes, his probation violation case will likely be heard in juvenile court. He faces, at most, four to six months in jail.
As of this writing, Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya, are currently in custody in Mexico and are expected to return to the U.S. some time on Wednesday.
[Photo by U.S. Marshals/Getty Images, Image via Shutterstock/Nessluop]