Police in California arrested a Tennessee teacher who allegedly kidnapped his 15-year-old student.
“NEWS ALERT: Tad Cummins is under arrest and Elizabeth Thomas has been safely recovered in Northern California,” the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation tweeted on April 20. “More details soon!”
High school teacher Tad Cummins, 50, fled from Culleoka, Tennessee with Elizabeth Thomas, 15, on March 13, reports WITI.
Cummins was reported to school officials in February after a student witnessed Cummins allegedly kissing Elizabeth. He was later suspended, reports AL.com.
Elizabeth’s father says his daughter began to feel guilty and frightened, feelings he says Cummins — who had been stalking and threatening the girl already — took advantage of.
“Evidence has surfaced that (Elizabeth) became fearful of Cummins’ reaction to his suspension and her belief that he would punish her in some way for it,” a court filing says.
Cummins allegedly then manipulated Elizabeth into leaving with him, stating “her future collegiate and work career was ruined, thus causing her to believe that her best option was to leave with him,” the court filing adds.
Two days after the alleged kidnapping, surveillance video showed Cummins and the teenager at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma City. Since then, police did not know where the pair were.
For five weeks, the Culleoka Unit School teacher eluded authorities until they found his vehicle in Siskiyou County, California, 2,000 miles away, reports The Tennessean.
“Our intelligence analysts and agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this Amber Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “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.”
Cummins now faces charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping. He is currently in a California jail without bail, awaiting extradition to Tennessee.
Police say Elizabeth is unharmed but has yet to make contact with her family as she is currently in “too remote” of a location.
Many on social media were thrilled to hear the teenager was found and safe.
“GREAT NEWS!!” tweeted one person in response to the TBI tweet. “Hope she will be comforted and supported on her road to recovery now.”
“So excited Elizabeth is coming home!” another user added. “Great job! You all too often hear the negative. Take a minute and enjoy!!!”
Sources: WITI, TBI/Twitter, The Tennessean, AL.com / Photo credit: Pixabay, TBI via The Tennessean