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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Tarrant County Sheriff said he would not be surprised if “affluenza” teenager Ethan Couch is no longer in the country. Sheriff Dee Anderson said Couch is now the top fugitive his investigators are trying to find.
Sheriff’s investigators started searching for Couch Wednesday morning. It came a day after an arrest warrant was issued after Couch’s probation officer was unable to reach him or his mother for several days.
The teenager was two years into a 10-year probation term after a 2013 drunk driving crash that killed four people. Couch avoided jail time, and his sentence received national attention after a defense witness used the term “affluenza” to describe his family’s wealth contributing to his lack of responsibility.
“I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so,” Anderson said. “I said, we’re going to see him again. He’s going to be back in this system.”
Anderson said there were indications Couch had left his last known residence for some time. He believed the disappearance was planned after the release of a video earlier this month, showing a boy who appeared to be Couch at a party.
That video would not necessarily be a probation violation, according to Dallas attorney Nicole Knox.
“The state would have to prove that this was him in the video and it was taken at a time and occurred at a time that was during his probation instead of before it,” she said.
However, not being in contact with probation was the easiest requirement to fulfill she said, and is an immediate problem for Couch’s future.
Anderson was not aware of any restrictions on travel for Couch.
There was no arrest warrant for his mother Tonya, but Anderson said they were looking for anyone who may be with him or helped him leave the area.
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