April 23, 2017

Missing Tenn. student found, former teacher arrested

22 April 2017, 01:42 | Marion Schneider

Tad Cummins from Tennessee Amber Alert website

Tad Cummins from Tennessee Amber Alert website

Elizabeth Thomas, the 15-year-old Tennessee girl who disappeared last month with her teacher, has been found safe in California, the Associated Press reported Thursday afternoon. Cummins was her high school teacher in Maury County.

January 25, 2017: Maury County Sheriff's Officer begins investigating after student reports the pair kissing.

The school system didn't suspend Cummins until February 6.

Cummins taught at Culleoka Unit School, where Thomas was a student, until he was dismissed March 14.

"It just so happened that she wanted to do the things he was claiming [he did], so she probably idolized [him]", Elizabeth's sister Sarah Thomas told PEOPLE. "This is a hard time for her and her family", her attorney wrote in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. Cummins as surrendered, authorities said, without incident.

"The news of Elizabeth Thomas' safe return is wonderful news for our community and now, we can begin healing as a community, school district and as families touched by the AMBER Alert", the school district said in the statement.

Cummins is also charged in Siskiyou County, CA, with kidnapping and possession of stolen property. When Cummins went outside, investigators were there to arrest him, O'Hare said.

Channel 4 spoke to Anthony Thomas on Facebook Live after he found out his daughter had been found safe.

The agency said it worked tirelessly for the past five weeks, investigating more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states.

According to Siskiyou County authorities, Cummins said "I'm glad this is over", after his arrest.

At a news conference in Nashville, Jack Smith, acting USA attorney for central Tennessee, said his office would add a federal charge against Cummins, for transportation of a minor across state lines for sexual intercourse.

March 19 - Neighbors reacted to Thomas' disappearance.

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Gilley described her condition as alternating between "stoic" and "emotional", understandable given the circumstances, he said. Another student reported seeing Cummins kiss Thomas a month before the two went missing.

Thomas was safely recovered in Northern California, ABC News reports.

Maury County Schools released a timeline of their investigation. Thomas will fly back on TBI aircraft. She and Cummins have been missing more than two weeks now.

The pair disappeared as a police investigation into their relationship was heating up.

March 24 - Cummins' coworkers offered a reward in AMBER Alert.

She later announced that she had filed for divorce on March 31. Surveillance video from a gas station in Alabama later that day appeared to show Cummins.

April 2, 2017: Family and friends hold a vigil for Thomas.

The AMBER Alert Program broadcasts urgent bulletins on child-abduction cases. "We all need you home".

Cummins, 50, told Barry he was 44, and that the teen was his 22-year-old wife, Barry told CNN affiliate KRCR.

"This is not somewhere they had frequently visited", Cox said.

In the note Cummins indicated he had a job interview.

Authorities have been looking for a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee license plate 976ZPT. "Her mood was very alternating", he said.

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