Fort Worth

Tarrant County authorities looking for Ethan Couch, ‘affluenza’ teen

Ethan Couch gives a deposition in a civil case at age 18.
Ethan Couch gives a deposition in a civil case at age 18. FortWorth

Authorities were searching Tuesday evening for Ethan Couch, the Tarrant County teenager sentenced to probation two years ago after killing four people in a drunken-driving crash.

Citing anonymous sources, WFAA reported that a warrant was issued for Couch after he missed an appointment with his probation officer. The sources said officers couldn’t find Couch or his mother. His father reportedly said he didn’t know where they were.

“We can confirm only that we are looking into the whereabouts of Ethan Couch and his mother,” Sam Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, wrote in a text message to the Star-Telegram.

Jordan said she could not confirm that Couch missed a probation meeting or whether a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

“I can’t confirm that. This is a case of juvenile record,” she wrote.

Couch was 16 when he lost control of his Ford F-350 pickup on June 15, 2013, and plowed into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stalled on Burleson-Retta Road in southern Tarrant County.

His blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit, and traces of Valium were in his system, officials said. During his trial, a psychologist described him as a victim of “affluenza,” a pop psychology term for a youngster’s reckless behavior brought on by the coddling of affluent parents.

In November, the district attorney’s office filed a motion to transfer Couch to adult probation on his 19th birthday in April. Until then, his case is still governed by rules of juvenile court, Jordan said.

Earlier this month, a cellphone video was posted to social media that appears to show Couch with people playing beer pong with red plastic cups and Miller Lite. A person who resembles Couch is seen clapping. At the time, Jordan said the DA’s office was looking into the video.

He could be sent to prison for 10 years for violating probation, the Star-Telegram has reported.

On Tuesday night, Couch’s attorneys, Scott Brown and Reagan Wynn, sent this statement: “We have recently learned that, 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. It is our understanding that the Court has issued a directive … to have Ethan detained because he is out of contact with his probation officer. We do not have any further information concerning this situation. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate for us to publicly discuss this matter further at this time.”

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Monica S. Nagy: 817-390-7792, @MonicaNagyFWST

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