Weeks after she and her son went missing, sparking an international search, Tonya Couch is back where she started: Tarrant County, Texas.
That’s where the mother of so-called affluenza teen Ethan Couch is set to face a charge of hindering the apprehension of a felon.
She arrived in Texas on Thursday, two days after a Los Angeles judge approved her extradition and more than a week after Mexican authorities detained her with her son in a Pacific resort town.
Tonya Couch arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport around 1:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. ET) Thursday, officials said. Video from CNN affiliates showed a handcuffed Couch being escorted from a van into a Texas jail.
She remained in custody Thursday night, according to jail records. She is scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m. Friday (10 a.m. ET) for her arraignment, Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson told reporters. Last week, her bond was set in Texas at $1 million.
The mother’s return to Texas is the latest twist in a controversial case that drew national attention.
Before he went to Mexico, Ethan Couch was on probation for killing four people in a drunken driving accident in 2013, when he was 16. At the time, many were outraged that a judge sentenced him to probation instead of jail time, slamming his now-notorious “affluenza” defense: Trial testimony suggested he was too rich and spoiled to understand the consequences of his actions.
In mid-December, a warrant was issued for Couch, who’s now 18, to be taken into custody after his probation officer couldn’t reach him. He appeared to have dropped off the radar after a video emerged that allegedly showed him at a party where alcohol was consumed.
He had been ordered to stay away from drugs and alcohol for the duration of his probation.
The teen’s disappearance reignited controversy over the case and renewed calls for him — and his mother — to be held accountable.
Tonya Couch returned to the United States last week and had been in the custody of the Los Angeles Police Department. This week a judge there approved her extradition to Texas.
The sheriff, who accompanied deputies as they took her from the airport to jail Thursday, described the mother as “cooperative, polite (and) appreciative of the way she’d been treated so far.”
Her lawyer has maintained her innocence.
“While the public may not like what she did, may not agree with what she did, or may have strong feelings against what she did, make no mistake — Tonya did not violate any law of the state of Texas and she is eager to have her day in court,” attorney Stephanie Patten said in a statement last week.
Ethan Couch is still in Mexico; when he returns to the United States depends in large part on whether he decides to contest his deportation. Last week a Mexican judge granted the teen a temporary stay halting deportation proceedings.
Anderson, the Tarrant County sheriff, told reporters Thursday that he’s confident Ethan Couch also will return to Texas, eventually.
“If he gets released back into Mexico and we have to start hunting him again, I’m going be as disappointed as anybody in the world,” he said. “I think we’ve been assured that it’s not a question of if he’s coming back, it’s a question of when he’s coming back. And I’ve said over and over, we’re patient, we’ll wait, we’ll be here.”