Missing Student Found Safe, Teacher Arrested After More Than a Month on the Run
Elizabeth Thomas, 15, was found safe after weeks on the run with her former teacher, Tad Cummins, in Northern California.
The missing student who has not been seen since vanishing with her teacher more than a month ago has been found safe in Northern California.
Elizabeth Thomas, 15, was "safely recovered" following weeks on the run with her former teacher, Tad Cummins, near the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Siskiyou County, authorities said.
Cummins was arrested at the same time, officials said.
An unidentified man called the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's tip line and also contacted local law enforcement late Wednesday to report a possible encounter with the pair in a remote area of Cecilville, TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said at a press conference Thursday.
It is believed they were staying in a cabin in the very rural area, about 120 miles south of the Oregon state line, authorities said.
NEW: Here's the mug shot of Tad Cummins from California. He's now facing state and federal charges. pic.twitter.com/2LYWL7QlStApril 20, 2017
Police confirmed Thursday morning a Nissan Rogue found on the property belonged to Cummins and kept the vehicle under surveillance for several hours before taking the former teacher into custody.
Agents from the TBI, FBI and deputies with the Maury County Sheriff's Office flew on TBI aircraft to California to meet with Thomas and fly her back home.
Jack Smith, acting U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, said Cummins has been charged with transportation of a minor across state lines with the intent of sexual intercourse.
Cummins had previously been charged with aggravated kidnapping and misdemeanor sexual contact with a minor.
The discovery of Thomas and the arrest of Cummins come nearly six weeks since the pair disappeared on March 13.
Thomas's disappearance triggered a nationwide Amber Alert.
“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 statement Thursday.
“What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end," he said. "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 last public sighting of the pair had been two days after they vanished. Surveillance cameras captured images of the duo shopping inside an Oklahoma City Walmart.
Cummins, a married father and grandfather, left a note for his wife, Jill, the morning he vanished, Cooper said. The prosecutor declined to reveal the letter’s contents, but called it a diversionary tactic designed to buy time.
Jill Cummins filed for divorce after her husband and the girl went missing.
He was charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. Authorities warned he was armed.
Cummins had been suspended in February from his teaching duties after the pair was discovered in his classroom. The school district had ordered him to have no one-on-one contact with the girl after a classmate reported the two had been seen kissing on school property in January.
Both denied having any inappropriate contact with the other.
One day after their disappearance, he was fired by school authorities.
His family had pleaded for him to surrender to authorities.
“No matter where you are, daddy, no matter what you’ve done, we just want you to come home," daughter Erica Osbourne, 29, told ABC News last week. "We miss you so much. We’re here for you, no matter what, any time, any place, anywhere."
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