Missing Tennessee Student Found With Teacher In California

Oceane Deschanel
Abril 21, 2017

After five weeks on the run, a Tennessee teacher who kidnapped and fled with his 15-year-old student was arrested Thursday deep in the mountains of northern California, authorities said.

A northern California man said his property caretaker and a quick-thinking neighbor hatched a plan to keep Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas in their sights after the duo showed up on his property. Cummins, 55, is accused of kidnapping Thomas, 15, on March 13 in Columbia, Tennessee.

U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said a federal charge has been filed against Cummins. "He needs to be held accountable for kidnapping this girl", Gwyn said.

Cummins was Thomas' 50-year-old high-school teacher at Culleoka Unit School in Maury County, Tenn. Authorities had a hard time getting to the cabin, as there was snow on the ground, TBI officials have said.

The affidavit then says they spoke with Thomas' father.

The two vanished from Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13.

Ambers Alerts were issued in Tennessee and Alabama on Tuesday, March 14 for Mary Catherine "Elizabeth" Thomas and Tad Cummins.

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"I believe the Federal Bureau of Investigation are going to make sure she's healthy before she comes home", she said. "With the information that I have seen, and that is on Facebook, I'm glad to see that she is unharmed, as far as we know now". The report went on to say Cummins even threatened her with "repercussions" at school in order for her to go out with him.

Tad Cummins' mug shot from his arrest Thursday.

"Someone called that tip in, and undoubtedly they had seen media reports of this abduction", Whatley said. The teacher, however, acknowledged that the girl was "a really good friend and she does leave her other classes to come see him when she needs someone to calm her down", according to a school report dated January 30.

Cummins surrendered without incident, the TBI said, and Thomas was rescued by authorities. In her letter, Love said the girl being in his classroom was a violation of the principal's order to him. After the kiss was reported, the school system order Cummins and Thomas not to have any contact. Officials planned a news conference scheduled for 4 p.m. ET. An AMBER Alert was issued across the state of Tennessee the following day, and Cummins was added to the TBI's Top 10 Most Wanted list on March 17.

The last confirmed sighting of the pair was two days later at an Oklahoma City Wal-Mart. The images showed Cummins had altered his hair to appear darker and the girl's hair may have changed to red.

When Cummins' wife, Jill, got home that evening, she found a note from her husband saying he was gone to Virgina Beach or the D.C. area to clear his head, according to the court records.

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