A Tennessee teen went missing early this week and authorities believe she’s with her 50-year-old former school teacher. State authorities and the FBI say 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas willingly got in the vehicle of former teacher Tad Cummins on Monday after he allegedly went to pick her up at a Maury County restaurant and took off.
Amber Alerts have since been issued in both Tennessee and Alabama for the high school freshman as authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of Cummins for alleged sexual contact with a minor. Days into the manhunt, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had received dozens of tips as well as surveillance footage from a gas station where authorities say Cummins refueled his vehicle before picking up Thomas. And police believe Cummins has the cash to keep refueling, at least for a while.
According to reports, investigators say Cummins secured a title loan for a personal vehicle several days before he disappeared, getting $4,500 in cash from the transaction. The TBI said he was driving a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tag 976-ZPT. Cummins is also allegedly armed with two handguns. Initially, authorities thought the pair may have headed to Alabama but there have been no confirmed sightings.
So now investigators acknowledge the two could be anywhere. District Attorney Brent Cooper says it’s likely Cummins is now staying off busy public roads and may have even switched from his Nissan Rogue to another vehicle. Three days into the search, Thomas’ family issued a statement thanking citizens for the influx of tips and law enforcement for their continued commitment to getting their daughter home.
“We want to thank the Maury County Sheriff’s Office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies working to find Elizabeth, the Amber Alert system for quickly getting out the alert about her, and all of you who have shared her photo and story in hopes of helping to find Elizabeth. Your prayers and support are deeply appreciated,” Thomas’ family said on Wednesday.
“We ask that you continue to share Elizabeth’s story and to immediately notify law enforcement if you think you may have seen her. You can be Elizabeth’s eyes, her ears and her voice. Your information or tip may be what leads to getting this child home.” Thomas is white, with blonde hair, hazel eyes, stands 5’5” and weighs 120 pounds.
She was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings. Cummins is a white male, who stands 6’0”, weighs approximately 200 pounds, and has brown hair and eyes. TBI would like to hear from anyone who may have had an interaction with either individual prior to their disappearance. Anyone with information on Thomas or Cummins is asked to call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND. If you spot the vehicle and can verify the license plate, authorities ask that you call 911.