The Tennessee teacher who has not been seen since allegedly running off with one of his students more than two weeks ago may have fled south of the border.
Brent Cooper, the district attorney for Maury County, Tennessee, called teacher Tad Cummins a "religious man," telling ABC News that the 50-year-old may have fled to Mexico with student Elizabeth Thomas, 15.
"It's possible that's where they are," said Cooper, who explained that Cummins is "familiar with missionary work... He could easily blend into that kind of culture."
According to authorities, Cummins invented a past for himself to make him appear more fascinating to his students.
"He was kind of brainwashing all the kids into thinking he was something he wasn't," Cooper said, including a former FBI and CIA agent. "I'm sure all that played into Elizabeth's feelings toward him. It was a complete deception."
Cummins and Thomas vanished together on March 13. Despite hundreds of tips and leads, there have been no credible sightings of the pair and an Amber Alert remains in effect for Elizabeth.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said: “The lack of confirmed sightings, however, continues to lead TBI to believe Cummins could have Thomas hidden from view of the general public or far away from Tennessee."
Thomas had last been seen wearing an oversized flannel shirt, black leggings and sneakers.
Though Cummins was spotted in a local Walmart days before the alleged abduction shopping for hair dye, investigators said they have been able to determine that purchase was not connected to any plan to change his or Thomas' appearance.
A warrant has been issued for Cummins’ arrest on charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor, the TBI said.
Cummins is believed to be armed with two handguns and could be driving a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tag 976-ZPT.
Last week, he was added to the state’s Top 10 Most Wanted list. There is a $1,000 reward for information connected to his capture.
Officials asked property owners, especially in rural areas, to search their grounds for the pair, the vehicle or any other signs of suspicious activity.
"The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation remains hopeful and committed to its efforts to reunite the young girl with her family, friends, and community, as the search for her and her alleged kidnapper continues," the TBI said.
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-TBI-FIND, or to call 911 immediately if Cummins’ vehicle is spotted.