Missing teen found with former teacher

Published: 21 April 2017 Image credit: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

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A 50-year-old former high school teacher has been arrested in Northern California, and the girl he is accused of kidnapping has been found safe.

American teen Elizabeth Thomas had been missing since March 13, presumably with her former teacher, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Tad Cummins, who taught at a rural Tennessee high school, was discovered at daybreak Thursday morning after a caller had tipped off authorities that the couple were living ‘in a cabin in a remote area’, of Cecilville, California. According to TBI spokesman Josh DeVine, the caller notified police the pair had arrived at the cabin within the last week.

U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said that a federal charge had been filed against Mr Cummins.

“He is charged with transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of sexual intercourse,” he said.

The charge carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison.

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Elizabeth Thomas (Picture: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Authorities have been searching for the pair since March, when an Amber Alert was issued.

“Our intelligence analysts and agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this Amber Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states,” TBI Director Mark Gwyn said in a statement.

“What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end. We are extremely thankful the hard work in this search has paid off.

“We’re also grateful for the public’s support and vigilance throughout this search effort.”

Mr Cummins is now in custody in California, awaiting extradition to Tennessee to face charges of sexual contact with a minor and aggravate kidnapping, TBI authorities said.

The teens’ father, Anthony Thomas, told reporters the family was ‘overjoyed’ Elizabeth was found safe.

“We’re going to have to figure out what kind of state of mind she’s in, of course, and probably get her some help. It may be a long road, but at least we’ve got her back now,” he said.