Tennessee high school student Elizabeth Thomas disappeared a week ago with 50-year-old former teacher, Tad Cummins. Authorities say they are deeply concerned “about his intentions for her” as they step up search efforts across the country. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Cummins, 50, had possibly planned the kidnapping after his firing from the Culleoka Unit School in Maury County. He is said to be armed.
Cummins and Thomas were allegedly separated by the school system after the two were caught kissing by another student. After she was seen leaving Cummins’ classroom, Thomas’ phone was searched and Cummins was fired. Once he lost his job, Cummins took out a loan and stocked up on gas and weaponry.
Cummins is charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. He was later added to a list of most wanted fugitives by the TBI. Authorities believe Cummins is armed with two handguns and should be considered very dangerous. Authorities said there have been no real sightings of Thomas or Cummins since Monday, when she was seen in Decatur, Alabama, the same day that grim posts appeared on both of their social media accounts.
Cummins’ wife made an emotional plea for him to come home amidst the search.
“Tad, this is not you,” Jill Cummins told reporters Saturday. “This is not who you are. We can help you get through this.”
Police have received 250 tips from 24 states. These reports have led investigators to cast a wider net in their search.
“Having now been on the run for more than five days, Cummins may have taken her, frankly, anywhere,” the TBI said Sunday.
They added, “Nothing investigators have learned about Cummins or his intentions for the young girl … calms the imminent concern for Elizabeth’s well-being. In fact, it only heightens it.”
Elizabeth’s father, Anthony Thomas, made an heartfelt plea to his daughter in an interview with NBC affiliate WSMV on Friday.
“We all love you very much and we miss you — the house is not the same without you here,” he said. “We just don’t want to go on without you.”
Elizabeth is described as 5’5″, weighing 120 pounds, with hazel eyes. She was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings, investigators said.
Cummins is 6’0″ and about 200 pounds, with brown hair and eyes. He is believed to be driving a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tags.
We hope Elizabeth returns home safely.