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Ethan Couch And Mom Held 'Going-Away' Party Before Fleeing To Mexico, Sheriff Says

Christopher Connelly
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson talked with reporters Tuesday morning about the capture of Ethan Couch in Mexico.

Before Ethan Couch and his mother fled to Mexico, they held a going-away party. Then they hopped in a pick-up truck and drove to the border.

Ethan dyed his light hair black. They tried to blend in with tourists. 

On Monday night, their life on the run ended in Puerto Vallarta, a resort city on the Pacific Coast.

On Tuesday, North Texas authorities gave reporters the first details about their capture. 

  Ethan Couch is the so-called Texas “affluenza” teenager who was on probation after he killed four people in a drunken-driving accident in 2013. During Couch’s trial, a defense expert said his wealthy parents coddled him – something described as “affluenza.” The term angered many in the public.

In late November, video emerged that apparently showed Couch playing beer pong – a probation violation.

Ethan Couch, who's 18, was supposed to check in with his probation officer Dec. 10. He didn't. Instead, he disappeared. So did his mother, Tonya Couch. 

 Tarrant County sheriff Dee Anderson said Tuesday morning that an arrest warrant will be issued for Tonya Couch on charges of hindering and apprehension. She could face two to 10 years in prison. 

Anderson said it appears the two planned their disappearance.

"It was a high priority for us to make sure that we found him and get him back," Anderson said Tuesday morning. 

Tarrant County authorities worked with several agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service, to track them down and get them back to Texas.

Anderson declined to say when Couch and his mom would be back in the U.S. But The Associated Press reports they will fly back on a commercial flight to Texas on Wednesday. They were scheduled to fly back Tuesday, but flights were booked. 

The mother and son were being held at immigration offices in the state capital, Guadalajara. They'll get food and rooms with beds.  

A hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 19 to transfer Ethan Couch’s case to adult court. If his case is transferred, he could face up to 120 days in an adult jail, followed by 10 years probation. If he violates probation, he could face up to 10 years in prison per death, said Sharen Wilson, the Tarrant County district attorney.

Ethan Couch's attorneys released a statement Tuesday, saying they haven't had a chance to speak with him and don't anticipate doing so until he arrives in Texas. 

This video, posted on Twitter earlier this month, apparently shows Ethan Couch at a party playing beer pong.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Christopher Connelly is a reporter covering issues related to financial instability and poverty for KERA’s One Crisis Away series. In 2015, he joined KERA to report on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. From Fort Worth, he also focused on politics and criminal justice stories.