Parents of a 15-year-old girl who went missing in Tennessee say that she may be in serious danger.
According to Elizabeth Thomas’s family, she told them that she was going out for the day and if she didn’t return that evening, they should call the police. Police believe her teacher, Tad Cummins, abducted her March 13. Elizabeth went missing weeks after another student reportedly saw her kissing Cummins, which Thomas denied. Accordingly, police charged Cummins with kidnapping.
Thomas’s brother James did not think anything was suspicious the day Elizabeth went missing.
“She didn’t think she was going to be gone that long,” he said. “I guess because she did expect to be home by dinner that night.”
After leaving her home on March 13, Thomas was with one of her friends, who later dropped her off at a restaurant in Columbia. Police found video surveillance of Cummins filling up his car nearby at approximately the same time. Now, investigators believe Cummins may have taken Thomas near Decatur, Alabama.
Although the police say locals called in approximately 600 tips about Thomas’s whereabouts, none produced credible sightings.
Josh DeVine, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman, said the case gets more difficult as time goes on.
“Every day that goes by, we have more concern for her well-being. That is why we really need people to be on the lookout,” he explained. “Either they’re off the grid in a very rural area or they are outside the southeast, where this has been getting an awful lot of attention in the public.”
Thomas has light brown, blondish hair and hazel eyes. She is 5 feet and 5 inches tall, weighing approximately 120 pounds. Friends last saw her wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings. The alleged kidnapper, Tad Cummins, is 50 years old and has brown hair and eyes, as well as a gray goatee. He is 6 feet tall, weighing approximately 200 pounds. Investigators believe he is armed and is driving a silver Nissan Rogue with the Tennessee Tag number 976-ZPT. If seen, call 1-800-TBI-FIND.
Leading up to Elizabeth’s disappearance
Prior to the alleged kidnapping, a student at Thomas’s high school in Culleoka saw her kissing Cummins in a classroom. Although the witness reported the sighting to the school the following day, police didn’t notify Thomas’s father until the following week. Both Thomas and Cummins denied the allegations.
Additionally, Cummins described Thomas as “a really good friend” who saw him as a counselor. Teachers near the situation said that, while they never saw Thomas and Cummins kiss, the two did seem close. One teacher said that Cummins “should have a better boundary between his role as the student’s teacher and the student’s friend.”
A few days prior to Thomas’s disappearance, Cummins took out a $4,500 loan. Police believe he also has two handguns and is dangerous. The school formally fired Cummins on March 14 after a month-long suspension and he is now on Tennessee’s most-wanted list.