California police rescued 15-year-old high school Tennessee student Elizabeth Thomas today — and threw the teacher who kidnapped her in jail!
Authorities are holding Tad Cummins, 50, without bail while awaiting his inevitable extradition back to Maury County, Tennessee, where he’s accused of having kidnapped Elizabeth on March 13, touching off an AMBER Alert and desperate outreach efforts on social media.
The nationwide manhunt ended today at a commune in a remote corner of Northern California, where Cummins was taken into custody on charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor.
Elizabeth was reported to be safe, according to Kelly Giordano a spokeswoman for the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, but officials did not release any information on whether or not she’d been harmed during the nearly six-week ordeal.
For months before the alleged abduction, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) officials say, Cummins groomed Thomas, giving her money, helping her with homework, flirting, and weaving a personal backstory designed to charm the impressionable teen.
When another student saw Cummins allegedly kissing Elizabeth, it initiated a chain of events that saw the teacher suspended from his position as a forensics instructor and eventually persuading Elizabeth to run away.
While officials in California and the TBI work out the details, the most serious charges in the case will rest on what Elizabeth says in the days ahead. As The National ENQUIRER reported in March, if she says she ran off and stayed willingly by his side, it will be difficult to try Cummins on the kidnapping charge.
“If she comes back and she is absolutely adamant that this is all voluntary, her own doing, that he didn’t touch her, it’s going to be difficult to prove that,” Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper said of the kidnapping charge.
“You can be between 13 and 18 and you can legally make the mature decision to leave your family and run off with a person never to be seen again,” Cooper told WHNT TV.
Check back for additional details on this breaking story.