Affluenza teen Ethan Couch was discovered by authorities after a phone order to Domino’s Pizza gave away his location, FOX News reports.
Authorities say Couch, 18, and his mother Tonya, 48, attempted to blend in with American tourists in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The Texas teenager dyed his light-colored hair and mustache dark brown, while his mother chopped off her once long curly tresses. A police report released by Jalisco state prosecutor Eduardo Almaguer said the pair used a phone to order Domino’s Pizza to their condominium on the beach. U.S. Marshals tipped Mexican authorities to their location on Monday.
The family fled once authorities arrived. After another tipster gave away their new location, police were able to capture the pair that evening. Dozens of calls came in about their whereabouts after Texas authorities placed a warrant out for Couch’s arrest earlier this month.
The New York Times reports:
They lived nearby in a modest second-floor apartment in a relatively nondescript building: a few small stores, a lunch stand and little of the luxury for which the resort city is known. Residents and area workers said they believed the two arrived toward the start of December.
Residents and employees of area stores said the pair had kept a low profile. They made no friends, and it was Mrs. Couch who did their shopping for food and other items. Mr. Couch almost never left the apartment, said employees of a nearby store, Loncheria Sebastian.
Rosa, an employee of Loncheria Sebastian who declined to give her last name for fear of drawing the authorities’ attention, said she saw the arrest of the pair Monday night. “They left their building, and right away a white truck pulled up and carried them away,” she said.
Police in Fort Worth, Texas told reporters they don’t believe Couch’s father, Fred, had anything to do with his son’s escape. Tarrant County sheriff Dee Anderson said after calls were made to the teen’s home about his missed parole meeting, he was out having the equivalent of a going away party.
Anderson says it is still unclear if anyone else knew about the plan.
Couch’s case made national headlines in 2013, when he pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury after four people died due to his drinking and driving.
Backlash resonated when a judge ruled in the favor of the family, who claimed Couch suffered from “affluenza,” meaning his parents’ wealth inadvertently shielded him from learning real responsibility.
Now with Couch’s 19th birthday nearly four months away, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson plans to ask a judge at his Jan.19 probation sentencing if he can be tried as an adult. In the event a judge declines Couch’s transfer to adult court, Wilson will ask that his probation be revoked so he can remain in a juvenile facility until April.
Anderson added Couch’s mother is facing third-degree felony charges for hindering an apprehension. If found guilty, she could spend up to 10 years in prison.
Texas authorities spent a high amount of money in their hunt for the Couches, but Anderson says it was worth it.
NY Times reports:
“Go talk to those four families who lost loved ones and who spent Christmas without their loved ones because he decided to drink three times the legal limit of alcohol and drive recklessly and kill four innocent people,” he said. “The details of the crime, and then the lack of justice in the sentence, outraged people in this area in a way that I haven’t ever seen people outraged.”
Couch’s lawyers haven’t yet released a statement regarding their client’s defense.
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