Tennessee, Illinois — Police are searching this morning for a former teacher accused of convincing a teenage student to run away with him. Investigators in Tennessee believe Tad Cummins kidnapped 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas.
Efforts to locate missing high school freshman Elizabeth Thomas remain active and ongoing as the concern about her relationship with former teacher Tad Cummins – and his intentions for her – only heighten the urgency surrounding this ongoing AMBER Alert in Tennessee and Alabama.
Thomas, 15, disappeared on Monday, March 13th and is believed to have been kidnapped by 50-year-old Tad Cummins, a former teacher at her school in Maury County, Tennessee. On Tuesday, the school district in Maury County terminated Cummins in the wake of an ongoing investigation into alleged inappropriate contact he had with Thomas at the school earlier this year.
On Monday, investigative efforts placed Thomas in the area of Decatur, Alabama. Since then, however, there have been no credible sightings of either individual or the vehicle in which investigators believe them to be traveling. Neither individual has had contact with their families in spite of public pleas by relatives of both for the young girl’s safe return to Tennessee.
The TBI has received approximately 250 tips from 24 states. (See below for the list of states.) The low number of tips, combined with the limited resources Cummins is believed to have in his possession, leads investigators to believe he may be keeping her out of view of the general public. For example, he potentially may have them sleeping in the vehicle or Cummins may have driven them far away from Tennessee to a rural community. Having now been on the run for more than five days, Cummins may have taken her, frankly, anywhere.
Investigative efforts, over the past few days, continue to reveal a troubling pattern of behavior on the part of Cummins, and indicates he potentially planned this abduction prior to Monday. Nothing investigators have learned about Cummins or his intentions for the young girl since issuing the AMBER Alert calms the imminent concern for Elizabeth’s well-being. In fact, it only heightens it.
Thomas is a 15-year-old white female, with hazel eyes, stands 5’5” and weighs 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings. Thomas is believed to be in the custody of 50-year-old Tad Cummins, a white male, who stands 6’0”, weighs approximately 200 pounds, and has brown hair and eyes. He is believe to be armed with two handguns and driving a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tag 976-ZPT. A warrant has been issued for Cummins for Sexual Contact with a Minor and Aggravated Kidnapping. On Friday, the TBI added him to the state’s ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list. There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
The TBI would urge the public to remain vigilant and report any information that may prove beneficial in the ongoing search to 1-800-TBI-FIND. If you spot the vehicle and can verify the license plate to be TN 976-ZPT, call 911 immediately.