Elizabeth Thomas has been missing for exactly a month now, and investigators say she and her alleged abductor, 50-year-old former teacher Tad Cummins, could be anywhere by now, perhaps even out of the country.
An Inappropriate Relationship
Whether Cummins forcibly abducted the 15-year-old girl, or whether she left with him voluntarily, is unclear. What is known, according to The Nashville Tennesseean, is that the two had, at one time, been carrying on an inappropriate relationship. Twice they were caught having inappropriate contact; and the day after Elizabeth went missing, Cummins, formerly a Health Sciences teacher at Culleoka Unit School, was fired.
— Faith Family America (@FaithFamilyUSA) April 13, 2017
Thomas’ father, Anthony, says that Thomas had tried to end the relationship, but that she began feeling guilty about Cummins’ troubles and that he “preyed upon her guilt.”
“Moreover, evidence has surfaced that (Elizabeth) became fearful of Cummins’ reaction to his suspension and her belief that he would punish her in some way for it.”
Thomas was last seen by her family on the morning of Monday, March 13, at about 7:45 a.m., when her sister dropped her off at a Shoney’s restaurant. Hours later, security camera footage from a Decatur, Alabama, gas station showed the pair about 80 miles away. A week later, there were captured on-camera at an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Walmart. Elizabeth’s hair had been dyed, possibly to disguise her identity.
— CHARITY.com™ (@CHARITY__com) April 1, 2017
Since that time, there have been no definitive leads as to the couple’s whereabouts.
— WVTM 13 (@WVTM13) March 31, 2017
As of this writing, according to KFOR (Oklahoma City), more than a thousand leads and tips have poured into the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), but none have panned out.
Meanwhile, family attorney Jason Whatley believes that someone back in Culleoka knows something, but isn’t talking to the police. The attorney has filed paperwork with the courts to compel witnesses to testify.
“There are students who’ve given information to law enforcement that is incomplete and then when asked again, they expand. Bottom line, we want to get that information on the table so we can vet that information.”
Further, according to Crime Online, investigators believe one particular witness may have valuable information, but that witness isn’t talking, either.
“One witness in particular has been unwilling to assist… we have witnesses who will not speak. We have witnesses who, frankly, have not been helpful in solidifying their testimony and what it will be.”
Be On The Lookout
Investigators believe Cummins may have taken Thomas to a rural area, away from the prying eyes of the public. He’s believed to have prepared for his getaway by watching survival shows on TV; investigators are asking people who live in rural areas — particularly in and around campgrounds — to be particularly vigilant in keeping an eye out for the couple.
Similarly, authorities say that Cummins is ill and will be running out of blood pressure medicine soon. If this happens, he is likely to turn up in a pharmacy looking for a refill, or in an emergency room looking for treatment. For these reasons, official are asking pharmacists and hospital staff to be on the lookout for the 50-year-old man, who is believed to be armed.
This is a developing story. More information about the investigation into Elizabeth Thomas’ disappearance will be provided as it becomes available.
[Featured Image by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]