The Tennessee teen who vanished with her teacher, sparking a nationwide manhunt and Amber Alert, has been spotted for perhaps the first time since her headline-grabbing ordeal earlier this year.
Elizabeth Thomas was 15 when authorities say her teacher, Tad Cummins, kidnapped her and took her across the country before they were found in a California cabin weeks later.
The sensational story died down as Thomas ducked the spotlight following Cummins' arrest. However, a reporter with the Columbia Daily Herald spotted the teen at a Tennessee fast food restaurant over the weekend and took the opportunity to ask her some questions.
While Elizabeth has not previously spoken out, she was largedly candid with the reporter about what life has been like since the ordeal.
Perhaps most notably, Elizabeth said she doesn't regret what happened with Cummins.
"I don’t regret it, nor do I say it was the right thing to do," she told the reporter. "It was an experience I’ll have to live with the rest of my life. It’s good and bad. It’s there. No matter what we do, we’ll have to deal with it,"
Otherwise, the interview mostly covered what Elizabeth has been up to in recent months. Since April, she said she has undergone therapy and moved from her hometown to live with her brother, who is helping with her studies.
Elizabeth said she is now being homeschooled and hopes to complete high school in two years and go off to college, where she wants to study to become a medical examiner.
Now 16, Elizabeth said that all-in-all, her return home has been positive.
"Happy to be back and that people are so accepting," she said.
As for her media blackout since the return, Elizabeth said she chose privacy because all the attention felt disingenuous.
"There’s been some much speculation about me... I am a human being. I can answer things fairly. But people are asking things that are too personal.
"People are talking to me like they know me. They didn’t talk to me before. They didn’t try to know me before. They have only liked me since I came back," she said.
Tad Cummins pleaded not guilty in May.
Elizabath Thomas' entire interview with the Daily Herald can be read here.
Elizabeth's saga began in March when she first went missing with Cummins, whose wife exclusively told Inside Edition she was totally blindsided by the turn of events.
Jill Cummins said she and her husband had been trying to help Elizabeth Thomas through some tough times at home and thought of her as another daughter.
But she noticed her husband and the teen were getting a little too friendly before vanishing together in March.
"He was getting really close to her," she said. "A father-daughter close, a friendship close, and I knew that. I discussed that with him. And explained to him, 'She's your student, you can't be so close to her.'"
But she added: "Never did I think there was a romantic thing between the two of them. There were no signs of that."
Jill filed for divorce from Tad when he disappeared with the teenager. She agrees that Thomas was exploited and perhaps even brainwashed.
"I feel slightly betrayed by her because she knew me," she added. "I don't really want to talk to her. It's not the right time. Maybe one day."