Frantic Search for 15-Year-Old Kidnapped by Pervert Teacher Ends When Police Get Jaw-Dropping News

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On March 13, 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas’ parents reported their daughter to be missing. Shortly thereafter, an Amber Alert was issued to try and track her down since she was believed to have been kidnapped by her 50-year-old high school teacher, Tad Cummins.

Today, April 20, they were discovered in Cecilville, California — quite far away from Elizabeth’s home in Columbia, Tennessee. Cummins has been taken into custody and is being charged with sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping.

The tireless efforts of law enforcement agencies across state lines is certainly noteworthy and sounds similar to a story you would expect to find on a television series. But how did everything unfold?

According to investigators, there had been allegations of a romantic relationship between Thomas and Cummins for quite some time, specifically a report of the two kissing in his classroom — a claim both denied. Furthermore, investigators have since found deleted e-mail drafts between the two which are clearly romantic in nature.

Apparently, they would communicate by writing a message and saving it as a draft. Then the other person would log in and read it before deleting it and leaving a message of their own.
Elizabeth’s father, Anthony, says Cummins had been manipulating her for a long time. He would help her with her homework, “[gave] her money, bought a microwave so she would heat food up in his room [and] try and get her out of trouble.”

Elizabeth’s sister, Sarah, believes that Cummins became Elizabeth’s idol and because he worked in the medical field — an aspiration of Elizabeth’s — he was able to slowly take control of her. “It just so happened that she wanted to do the things he was claiming [he did], so she probably idolized [him],” Sarah said. “He took that interest to kind of manipulate, to gain control over her, to gain her favor.”

After Elizabeth had been reported missing and the investigation began, Cummins’ wife of 31 years, Jill, came forward with a letter her husband and the father of their children wrote to her. Now authorities have determined it was written as a means of throwing investigators off of his trail.

Brent Cooper, district attorney for Maury County, TN said, “He was certainly putting a lot of planning into disappearing.” In the days prior to their disappearance, Cummins was researching online about the laws of teen marriage and the age of consent.

Furthermore, he was looking into what features of his car could and could not be tracked well by law enforcement agencies. He even went so far as to see what size mattress would fit in the back of his Nissan Rogue.

Once the Amber Alert was sent, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received leads from all 50 states, for a total of over 1,500 leads. Obviously, some were valid but many were not.

Before today, however, the last confirmed sighting of Cummins and Thomas was in Oklahoma City on March 15. Considered armed and dangerous, Cummins was moved to the top of the TBI’s Most Wanted List.

Thankfully, a tip on Wednesday night in Siskiyou County, California — a month after the previous sighting and nearly 2,000 miles away — proved to be fruitful. Local authorities found Cummins’ vehicle and despite it displaying fake license plates, they were able to confirm it as his vehicle.

While earlier reports revealed that the pair was found at a commune, The Tennessean claims that this is not true. They stated that authorities are avoiding specifics on the exact location.

Once they approached Cummins, he surrendered without incident and is currently residing in a nearby jail until extradition to Tennessee is complete. When news of Thomas being safely found reached home, her family was ecstatic.

“We’re absolutely thrilled and blessed to have her safe and on her way home,” older sister Kat Bozeman said. “It’s amazing. This is the best day we could have imagined.”

TBI director Mark Gwyn credits the success to the hard work of the hundreds of people actively searching for Thomas as well as the thousands of people who were eager to provide any information they thought they had. But he also admits all it takes is for one person to be on the lookout at the right time for it all to come together.

“What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end,” Gwyn said in a press release. “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.”

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