Lots of tips, but affluenza teen Ethan Couch still missing
The manhunt for Ethan Couch continues with tips pouring in, but authorities said there's still no sign of him or his mother since at least early December.
Law enforcement officials said they’ve received numerous tips after media outlets broadcasted a picture of the truck the mother and son could be in. They’re working on each one, but Couch and his mom Tonya are still on the run.
Experts who spoke with FOX4 said how long the two stay free depends on how much help they get.
Couch is on ten years’ probation after using the "affluenza" defense for killing four in a drunk driving crash.
Gil Wilson, a private investigator who worked as a Dallas police officer and in the district attorney’s office, said he was surprised that Ethan and his mom disappeared. He feels Tonya Couch 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,” Wilson said. “They weren’t thinking about it. The video came out and they just panicked. The mom panicked.”
While it’s difficult, running away and hiding from police can be done said former Cockrell Hill PD Chief Catherine Smit-Torrez.
“There are people who have committed crimes and who have disappeared for many, many years,” Smit-Torrez said, who now has her own PI firm.
But it’s hard work to go off the grid.
“You have to divest yourself of credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, family, friends, everything. That’s probably the only way you can really do this,” Wilson said.
The FBI's Most Wanted List is filled with fugitive faces who've been on the run for years -- four more than a decade. The list includes North Texan Yaser Abdel Said, implicated in the murders of his daughters and who hasn’t been seen since Jan. 2008.
“That’s a different time,” Wilson said. “That was long before social media. You have cameras on every street corner going into every gas station every Walmart. You are gonna be on camera.”
The experts said Ethan and Tonya Couch don't have urban survival skills or criminal world connections that could aid their escape and hiding.
“He's not a sympathetic person. He’s not a criminal so he doesn’t have a criminal element to go to where he can just knock on doors and there’s gonna be safe houses or people who are going to give him money,” Wilson said.
The experts agreed that the pair do have money that could help them get away, but that eventually it will dry up. Both feel like the case will end the same way – with Ethan Couch being found and brought to justice.
“Whether it takes a week or a year he will be found,” Wilson said.