Tennessee teen Elizabeth Thomas has been missing for over seven days, and authorities have good reason to believe she was kidnapped by her teacher, Tad Cummins.
Cummins, 50, was fired from his job last week at Central Tennesee High School after he was accused of making inappropriate contact with Thomas, who’s a freshman. He faces charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping. Elizabeth Thomas was last known to be at Shoney’s restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13 after a friend dropped her off there. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation surmised that the teen was 70 miles away in Decatur, Alabama.
Clues about the suspected kidnapping were seen on Instagram when both the teacher and student posted messages on Instagram that caught the attention of law enforcement.
Thomas posted a quote about Beauty and the Beast and Cummins wrote, “Let’s do this.”
CBS News reports that the manhunt has intensified for Tad Cummins, who’s suspected of hiding out with Elizabeth. AMBER alerts have been issued throughout the state as well as Alabama.
The missing Tennessee teen was last seen wearing black leggings and a flannel shirt. Investigators have no idea where Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins are located. Both of their cell phones are turned off, and there’s no way of tracking them.
Elizabeth’s brother, James Thomas, is asking his sister’s kidnapper to bring her back safe
“Even if he doesn’t go with her, if he could leave her somewhere safe and let the police know where she is, so we can have her, if he can just drop her in a public place and say, ‘Hey, here she is,'” he said.
— Spring Hill Police (@springhillpdtn) March 20, 2017
According to the report, surveillance video shows Tad Cummins fueling his silver Nissan before allegedly meeting Thomas on the morning of March 13.
Law enforcement and state investigators aren’t getting many tips despite news getting out about missing Elizabeth Thomas. Josh Devine with TBI says the two are either “off the grid so they’re outside the view of the general public, or they’re outside our original concentration area here in the Southeast.”
CNN reports that state investigators have received 250 tips from 24 states, including California, but none of them have helped in finding the girl.
Another student allegedly saw Cummins kissing Thomas in January, according to a letter written to the Maury County School District by Thomas’ family attorney, Jason Whatley. The school district suspended the teacher after being notified of the accusations. Whatley insists the school waited over a week before taking any action.
“Any suggestion that he was suspended immediately when these allegations came out is just false,” Whatley says.
Tad Cummins’ wife, Jill Cummins, begged for her husband to return with Elizabeth Thomas.
“This is not who you are. We can help you get through this,” she said over the weekend. “My heart breaks for the family of Beth Thomas.”
— TBI (@TBInvestigation) March 15, 2017
A break in the case would be something as small as one person who spots a Tennessee license plate, Devine tells reporters. If witnesses call 911 over something like this, it could break the case “wide open.”
Devine shares that he’s still optimistic about finding Cummins and Thomas since that is the agency’s mission.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations says Cummins has no criminal record in Tennessee but is armed with two handguns.
Investigators reveal that Cummins seems to have been planning this for a while by watching survivalist shows.
Will authorities finally get that one tip that leads them to Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins?
[Featured Image by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]