FORT WORTH, Texas — In one week's time, a teen whose attorneys used an "affluenza" defense has gone from a young person on probation to a fugitive, wanted by U.S. Marshals. Authorities say he and his mother are nowhere to be found.
"We have literally over the past few days run down hundreds and hundreds of leads," said Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson.
Investigators worked all weekend sifting through those tips, but Anderson said so far, nothing has panned out in the search for Ethan and Tonya Couch.
Ethan Couch became notorious as a 16-year-old when a juvenile court judge gave him 10 years probation and treatment after Couch killed four people in a drunk driving crash.
Couch was behind the wheel of his family's white pickup truck in June 2013 when it plowed into a group of good Samaritans trying to help a stranded driver. Nearly a dozen others were injured in the crash.
His "affluenza" defense — that he had grown up with a sense of entitlement and developed poor judgment after being coddled by his wealthy parents — and lack of jail time triggered an emotional reaction across the country.
On Monday, authorities released information about Tonya Couch's missing 2011 black Harley-Davidson edition Ford F-150 in the hope that if people see it they would call authorities.
"There's a possibility she or he may be in that truck ... we don't know that for a fact," Anderson said.
Tarrant County district attorney's office spokesman Sam Jordan said Monday that a relative of Tonya Couch filed a missing person report for her over the weekend.
Earlier this month, a video surfaced, allegedly showing Couch, now 18, at a beer pong party. The sheriff believes that video might have been what sent Couch and his mom running. Couch failed to appear for a scheduled meeting with his probation officer, and the family's home is empty.
An arrest warrant was issued for Ethan Couch after he missed the appointment with his probation officer
"If we can find out (Tonya Couch) helped him at all, I can assure you we will file criminal cases against her," Anderson said.
As for Ethan Couch, District Attorney Sharen Wilson wants his case moved out of juvenile court. She already filed the paperwork to do so.
"He's looking at possible penitentiary time if he is transferred to adult court," said Wilson.
Authorities said they are scouring phone, financial and flight records. They're also focusing on the beer pong party video.
If it is determined that Couch was drinking, the probation violation could send him to prison for up to 10 years.
"I personally do not believe a 10-year probated sentence as a juvenile was sufficient punishment for killing four people," Wilson said.
Authorities have issued a $5,000 reward for information leading to Couch's apprehension.
Contributing: Jim Douglas and Todd Unger, WFAA-TV, Dallas-Fort Worth; USA TODAY; The Associated Press. Follow Lauren Zakalik on Twitter: @wfaalauren
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