March 23, 2017

Maury County girl and teacher have been missing one week

21 March 2017, 02:15 | Marion Schneider

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Nissan Rogue

"Stay vigilant, stay alert, and let us know if you spot these individuals or this vehicle", the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation posted on Twitter regarding the disappearance of 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas.

TBI issued a nationwide Amber Alert, because with so few leads, investigators said Cummins and Thomas could be anywhere by now.

But they think the pair has since travelled to a remote area and are hiding out.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that Cummins "may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom [the teen].in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her".

Sabrina Gallup, a manager at the Shoney's, where Elizabeth was dropped off Monday morning told ABC News by phone that Thomas had no connection to the restaurant beyond that of a potential customer.

Cummins is believed to be "armed and dangerous" and carrying two handguns, DeVine says.

And more importantly, where are they now? On Friday, the TBI added him to the state's "Top 10 Most Wanted" list. A warrant has been issued for Cummins for Sexual Contact with a Minor and Aggravated Kidnapping.

However, the school failed to follow up that promise with any action and Elizabeth remained in Cummins' classroom. Alternatively, tips can be submitted via 1-800-TBI-FIND. "I want her home just as much as the rest of you, but I'm also very anxious about Tad".

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"It's been a week, and anything is possible", DeVine tells PEOPLE. Now there are serious questions about whether the Maury County School District did enough to prevent this from happening in the first place. There doesn't appear to be any word about the missing student on the school's website or Facebook account.

Cummins had been a teacher at Culleoka Unit Schol since 2011 before he was dismissed last week following the case.

The Daily Herald in Columbia reported that school spokeswoman Kim Doddridge provided a timeline of the school's handling of the incident.

The report said, "Mr. Cummins commented to both Student 1 and Student 2 that he is a father figure to Beth. he commented he saw her as a close and best friend". The school district suspended the teacher after being notified of the accusations. He retweeted quotes about his Christian faith and snapped photos of students and teachers donating blood. At that time, there were no findings to substantiate suspension of the teacher.

Sheriff Rowland said his department's investigation of the incident is still pending. "Cummins' dismissal on March 14 was a result of the TBI's issuance of the alert", the paper quoted Doddridge as saying. DeVine could not confirm what Cummins purchased that day.

Anthony Thomas said he's lost track of days.

Elizabeth had a "troubled life", authorities said.

Cummins' wife, Jill, attended the press conference alongside deputies and pleaded for her husband to surrender.

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