FORT WORTH, Texa
s - A teen fugitive who's known for using an "affluenza" defense and his mother attempted to disguise themselves and disappear among the American tourists thronging a Mexican resort city for the holidays, but are now in custody and will be returned to the U.S. after a cellphone used to order pizza gave away their location, authorities said yesterday.
Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Ethan Couch, 18 - who was on juvenile probation after killing four people in a drunken-driving wreck - and his mother had prepared to be gone a while, even dyeing Couch's blond hair black, before being detained Monday in the Pacific Coast city of Puerto Vallarta.
"They had planned to disappear. They even had something that was almost akin to a going-away party before leaving town," Anderson said. He would not give details about the event, including how many people attended.
During the sentencing phase of Couch's trial, a defense expert argued that his wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility - a condition the expert termed "affluenza." The condition is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association, and its invocation drew ridicule.
Couch disappeared as authorities investigated whether he had violated the terms of his probation.
Chicago cop pleads not guilty to murder
- A white Chicago police officer charged with murder in the 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald pleaded not guilty yesterday.
Jason Van Dyke is "hanging in there" and wants to tell his side of what happened so he's not seen "as this cold-blooded killer," defense attorney Dan Herbert said after the court hearing. Herbert added that they haven't ruled out asking for a change of venue. The case is in Cook County Criminal Court in Chicago where demonstrators have staged marches protesting the shooting and how it's been handled.
Van Dyke, 37, faces six counts of first-degree murder and one of official misconduct in the death of 17-year-old McDonald. The officer, wearing a dark suit and blue striped tie, appeared in court yesterday as his lawyer entered the plea on his behalf.
Judge Vincent Gaughan set the next hearing for Jan. 29.
Midwest storm brings winter to Northeast
- Winter weather that spun off a series of deadly storms in the Midwest brought the season's first big punch to the Northeast yesterday, with snow, sleet and freezing rain greasing roads, sending drivers spinning and keeping people indoors amid sub-freezing temperatures.
Parts of northern New England already had about 6 inches of snow by early evening, and isolated areas could get 10 inches or more by the time it ends late in the day, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather made for a sloppy mess in parts of metro Boston, where memories linger of last winter's record-breaking snowfall. But as Fernando Gonterman waited for a train from Harvard Square to his job at Massachusetts General Hospital, he was unfazed.
"Weather is weather. Just deal with it, right?" he said.
In snow-loving Vermont, Chassidy Byrd, the assistant manager at a gas station and convenience store in Plainfield, said the storm returned the state to a sense of normal.
Belgium: Pair was plotting attacks
BRUSSELS - Belgian authorities announced yesterday they have arrested two men and seized military-type uniforms and Islamic State group propaganda in connection with a suspected plot to unleash holiday season attacks against police, soldiers and celebrated locations in Brussels.
The attacks under preparation "were the same style as those perpetrated in Paris Nov. 13," in which 130 people were killed and hundreds injured by suicide bombers and gunmen equipped with Kalashnikov-style assault rifles, according to an internal document from Belgian state security services cited by RTBF French-language television. Those lethal actions were claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.
The two suspects were arrested following searches Sunday and Monday in the Brussels area, the eastern Liege region and Flemish Brabant, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office said in a statement. It did not disclose their names or further information about them.
During the searches, no weapons or explosives were found, but military-type training uniforms, IS propaganda material and computer equipment were impounded and are being examined, the prosecutor's office said.
- Associated Press