Authorities head to California to bring kidnapped teen home

Authorities head to California to bring kidnapped teen home

Agents from the TBI, FBI, and Maury County Sheriff’s Department were en route this afternoon to Siskiyou County, California to bring Elizabeth Thomas home to Tennessee.

A TBI spokeswoman tweeted that news this afternoon following a news conference to announce the rescue of Thomas, 15, and the arrest of her one-time teacher, Tad Cummins, 50.

Acting on a tip received by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation late last night, authorities in Siskiyou County located the pair at a rural cabin in Cecilville early this morning. Cecilville is a remote, unincorporated community surrounded by Six Rivers National Forest timber teacher maury tad cumminslands and the Trinity Alps Wilderness

Thomas, 15, was the subject of a Tennessee AMBER Alert issued on March 14, after having been kidnapped a day earlier by Cummins, a former teacher at Culleoka Unit School in southeast Maury County. On March 17, the TBI added the 50-year-old to the state’s ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list.

On Thursday morning authorities from Siskiyou County located the Nissan Rogue in which the pair were traveling and later located the pair. Cummins surrendered without incident. Thomas was subsequently recovered by law enforcement officers.

“Our Intelligence Analysts and Agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this AMBER Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states,” TBI Director Mark Gwyn said in a press release issued after the news conference. “What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end. We are extremely thankful the hard work of all partners in this search has paid off. We’re also grateful for the public’s support and vigilance throughout this search effort.”

The TBI has been assisted in this search by a variety of law enforcement agencies across the country, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Maury County Sheriff’s Department, and the Office of 22nd District Attorney General Brent Cooper.

Thursday afternoon Cummins, 50, remained in the custody of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department without bond, awaiting extradition to Tennessee to face charges of Sexual Contact with a Minor and Aggravated Kidnapping.

Thomas, 15, disappeared on Monday, March 13, and is believed to have been kidnapped by Cummins, a former health science teacher at Culleoka Unit School, a K-12 school with about 1,000 students in southeast Maury County. Surveillance video from a gas station in Alabama later that day appeared to show Cummins.

Two days later the two appeared on video at a Walmart store in Oklahoma.

The school district in Maury County terminated Cummins in the wake of an investigation into alleged inappropriate contact he had with Thomas at the school earlier this year after a student reported seeing Cummins kissing Thomas.


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