April 23, 2017

Father of Tennessee girl says he is overjoyed

22 April 2017, 01:13 | Marion Schneider

Teacher accused of kidnapping student arrested in California

Alleged Kidnapper Tad Cummins Arrested In Northern California Missing Tennessee Teen Elizabeth Thomas Safe

The man who allegedly kidnapped her, identified as her former teacher, 50-year-old Tad Cummins, was taken into custody.

Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kelly Giordano said earlier Thursday that Cummins' vehicle was found in their California jurisdiction Wednesday night. "Upset over the incident, she went to Cummins' classroom".

Whatley said he met Elizabeth for the first time Friday, saying, "I was taken aback by who she is".

Acting US Attorney Jack Smith said that if convicted of the federal charge, he faces at least 10 years in prison.

The pair were found at a cabin in Cecilville, more than 100 miles south of the OR state line, WXIA-TV in Atlanta reported.

Cummins faces a federal felony charge of transporting a minor across state lines, as well charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping.

Cummins, a 50-year-old ex-teacher at Culleoka Unit School in Maury County, is wanted in Tennessee for felony kidnapping and misdemeanor having sexual contact with a minor.

They said that on Wednesday night, a caller to the bureau's tip line had reported a possible sighting of Cummins' vehicle near a cabin in a "very remote, isolated" area of Siskiyou County, California, which lies along the OR border. The remote, mountainous area has limited cellphone service and the terrain is hard to traverse.

The pair went to the commune but returned to the gas station this week, with Cummins explaining they didn't get along with people at the commune, Barry said.

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The Associated Press is not naming the girl or her father because she is an alleged victim of a sex crime. The agency said it would provide more details in a press conference later. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation received the tip around 11 p.m. Wednesday and the caller pointed authorities to a cabin in Cecilville, a rural area near the OR border with little to no cell service, TBI Public Information Officer Joshua Devine said.

The girl's father, Anthony Thomas, had told NBC News that he believed Cummins was grooming the children in his class - telling them lies including that he had previously worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency.

The girl was apparently healthy and unharmed, but authorities say their main concern is her emotional and mental state.

The duo has been sought since March, when an Amber Alert was issued.

Cummins was sacked from his teaching job after being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with Thomas.

Authorities released surveillance video from March 15 that showed the pair at a Walmart in Oklahoma City.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017: The wife of a former Middle Tennessee teacher accused of abducting 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas filed for a divorce, court papers show.

But instead of going to the beach, police say he picked up the student in Columbia, Tennessee, in his wife's silver Nissan Rogue on the morning of March 13, triggering a six-week police manhunt. The couple has two children together.

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