Authorities said Monday they were searching for the truck that belonged to the mother of affluenza teenager Ethan Couch, who killed four people while driving drunk in 2013.
They also confirmed that a missing person report has been filed for Tonya Couch and she’s now officially considered a missing person. The report was filed by Tonya’s mother over the weekend.
Tonya Couch’s missing vehicle is a black 2011 Ford F-150 pick-up truck with special Harley Davidson edition badging with 23-inch chrome wheels and Texas license plate BC5 0945.
Ethan Couch missed an appointment with his probation officer last week and authorities believe he is on the run from law enforcement with his mother and may have fled the country.
A $5,000 reward has been issued for information leading to the teen’s capture. The U.S. Marshals Service is now involved in the search.
“This case is very, very important to my agency and my department,” Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said. “This truck is one thing we haven’t been able to account for.”
Anderson said his department had run down hundreds and hundreds of leads with more that continue to pour in. So far none of the leads have led to new information on where Ethan and his mother could be.
Earlier this month the DA’S office began investigating a video posted online that appeared to show Ethan Couch at a party where alcohol is involved – a violation of his probation. The clip shows several young men playing beer pong. It’s believed the release of the video caused Ethan Couch to flee.
Ethan Couch was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years of probation for driving his pickup truck drunk and killing four people.
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.
Prosecutors said his alcohol level was three times the legal limit when he caused the chain reaction crash in Burleson. 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.
Law enforcement experts say how long Ethan and Tonya stay free depends on how much help they get.
Private investigator Gil Wilson previously worked as a Dallas police officer and district attorney investigator.
He feels that Tonya Couch, Ethan’s mother, knew her son would be arrested for probation violation when video surfaced allegedly showing Ethan at a beer pong party.
“I believe this was just a spur of the moment decision,” said Wilson. “They weren’t thinking about it. The video came out and they just panicked; the mom panicked.”
While it’s difficult, it has happened before that there have been people wanted by law enforcement who somehow have been able to seemingly disappear into thin air.
“You have to divest yourself of credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, family, friends everything,” said Wilson. “That’s probably the only way you can really do this.”
Anyone with information about Ethan or Tanya Couch’s whereabouts can call the U.S. Marshals at 800-336-0102.