DALLAS - A juvenile court judge in Tarrant County has asked police to detain Ethan Couch, who hasn’t checked in with his probation officer recently.
Couch’s attorneys Scott Brown and Regan Wynn confirmed “for the last several days, the juvenile probation officer has been unable to make contact with Ethan or his mother with whom he has been residing.”
The court issued a directive to apprehend Couch. It an order that is similar to an arrest warrant for adults.
In 2013, Couch was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years of probation for driving his pickup truck drunk and killing four people.
Prosecutors said his alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he caused the chain reaction crash in Burleson. And there were seven other teens in the pickup, including two in the bed.
The crash killed a 24-year-old stranded motorist, a youth pastor who stopped to help her and a mother and daughter who lived nearby. They were all working to change a flat on the side of the road.
Couch was found guilty, but the defense argued he had “affluenza.” Attorneys said he was the product of a dysfunctional and abusive family -- parents who condoned drug and alcohol use and never set boundaries. He was given probation and sent to a pricey rehab facility in California.
At the time, Judge Jean Boyd told the court the reason for the probated sentence was because she believed the then 16-year-old could be rehabilitated if kept away from his family and given the right treatment.
But earlier this month the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office began investigating a video that was posted online. It appears to show Couch at a party where alcohol is involved.
The clip shows several young men playing beer pong and includes the caption, “ya boy ethan couch violating
Tarrant County Sheriff investigators now have federal and international resources to help find Ethan Couch and his mother, and with what is expected to be a 10-day head start by the two, they'll need it.
Law enforcement expert and veteran investigator Catherine Smit-Torrez says Ethan Couch and his mother aren't going to be easily caught.
"I feel very certain that they left the country long ago, and once you're able to get to another country, you can meet up with people who are gonna be shady enough to give you new identities and all that, and they can hide out for a long time,” said Smit-Torrez.
Now with the help of the U.S. Marshals and the FBI, deputies in Tarrant County will be able to search flight manifests, ATM withdrawals and bank statements, following what they hope might be a money trail by a family with financial resources.
"It may be 10 years from now before they find him, but when he is found, he is going to have to pay the time that he should be paying right now,” said Smit-Torrez.
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