Tad Cummins, the 50-year-old teacher who allegedly abducted Tennessee teenager Elizabeth Thomas, was arrested thanks to a tip from a neighbor who noticed something was suspicious about the man and the young lady whom he tried to pass off as his wife.
As CNN reported, Cummins and Thomas were found in a remote cabin near Cecilville, California, late last week, after having been on the run for 39 days.
— Cereslight (@cereslight) April 8, 2017
Help From A Concerned Tipster
Griffin Barry, the man who says he tipped off police to the fact that Thomas and Cummins were in the area, says he first noticed the pair last week, buying gas. Thomas allegedly said he was on his way to a nearby commune with his 22-year-old “wife.”
“He was like, ‘We’re from Colorado. We had a house fire and lost everything.’ He’s like, ‘This is my last $10.'”
Not immediately realizing that he was talking to a wanted fugitive and the subject of a nationwide Amber Alert, Barry says he took pity on the supposedly down-on-his-luck man and his “wife,” giving him $40 in cash and buying $15 worth of gas.
A week later, Thomas turned up again at the gas station, saying he didn’t get along with the people at the commune. Barry offered Thomas work on his property, and told him he could stay at a partially-built caretaker’s cabin that Barry managed.
However, Barry eventually became suspicious, noting that Thomas drove a vehicle without any plates, and that the young woman rarely spoke.
Father of Elizabeth Thomas says her alleged kidnapper is ‘filtering’ the news she sees: https://t.co/hTAwEXmpSP pic.twitter.com/N10vLMfNyq
— WAAY 31 (@WAAYTV) April 6, 2017
By Wednesday night, after comparing notes with friends and looking at photos of the missing teen and her alleged abductor, Barry realized what was going on. He called the police.
With the help of Siskiyou County sheriff’s deputies, Barry lured Thomas out of the cabin, where he was apprehended by waiting police officers.
Inside The Cabin
The partially-built cabin where Cummins and Thomas stayed lacked electricity, running water, or furniture. However, Cummins apparently tried to make do: found inside the cabin were a grill, pots and pans, bottles of soda and water, a bag of rice, and empty food containers.
Authorities believe the pair has spent at least one night there.
Back In Tennessee
Meanwhile, 1,900 miles away in Tennessee, the community of Culleoka is rejoicing at the news that the 15-year-old missing girl has been found safe and sound.
Family attorney S. Jason Whatley says the family is celebrating.
“There aren’t words in the English language to describe the level of relief and elation experienced by the Thomas family. Now begins another hard chapter, but for now, we celebrate.”
Whatley also notes that difficult days lie ahead for Elizabeth, whom her family believes was “groomed” and “brainwashed” by Cummins.
“It was a very traumatic experience for her. Her mood was very alternating. The two obviously have a relationship… her response to us and to law enforcement escalated up and down… Obviously, our goal is to seclude [Elizabeth] with her family. We have mental health people that are engaged actively in this case that are going to be working with her for her best interests.”
Cummins’ estranged wife, Jill Cummins, also spoke to the media about Cummins’ arrest, through her attorney, Michael Cox.
“She is excited that they were found and nobody was hurt.”
This is a developing story. More information about the arrest of Tad Cummins and the safe return of Elizabeth Thomas will be provided as it becomes available.
[Featured Image by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]