Police have begun an all-out manhunt for a Culleoka, Tennessee, teen who is believed to have been abducted by one of her high school teachers.
On Monday of last week, 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas went missing, and authorities believe she is with her 50-year-old teacher, Tad Cummins:
Thomas was reportedly last seen after a friend dropped her off at a restaurant in Columbia. However, footage from a nearby gas station shows Cummins filling up his car:
The Tennesse Bureau of Investigation also stated the teacher took out a lump sum of money just a day before the teen went missing:
“Cummins secured a title loan for a personal vehicle and other personal effects several days before his disappearance, netting $4,500 in cash.”
The two went missing just a couple months after a classmate claimed to have seen Cummins and Thomas kiss one another at school.
The Columbia Daily Herald wrote:
“Cummins and Thomas were sitting side by side in chairs and kissed on the lips as the grandchild, who also attends Culleoka, was using one of the classroom’s computers,”
CNN reported that on January 23, the Culleoka high school student saw the kiss and went to faculty to report it. Despite this, it was an entire week before Thomas's father, Anthony Thomas was informed about the allegations:
The father called the school the following day, where he expressed his frustration over the fact that he was “left in the dark” of the matter.
After the school had confronted Thomas about the alleged kiss, she denied it, stating that she just had a close relationship with the teacher after explaining she went to church with Cummins and his wife every Sunday.
School officials assured Mr. Thomas that there would no more contact between the two. However, the school failed to follow up that promise with any action and Elizabeth remained in Cummins' classroom. Cummins was fired on the day that he and Elizabeth Thomas went missing.
It was later discovered that Thomas and Cummins were regularly communicating over text.
Police believe that Thomas, who is one of ten children and whose mother is facing five counts of child abuse, was personally sought out by Cummins in an effort to brainwash her into running off with him.
In the week since Thomas went missing, an Amber Alert was sent out and Cummins was added to Tennessee's most wanted list:
State investigators have received 250 tips, from 24 states, but they have yet to locate the girl.
Mr. Thomas spoke with reporters and he pleaded for Cummins to bring his daughter home:
“He stole my daughter from me. He didn't just steal from me, he stole from the Murry County community.”
The distraught father later added:
“It's just not the same without her.”
Mr. Thomas has also sent out multiple tweets, hoping to reach his daughter on social media:
Cummins' wife, Jill Cummins, spoke on Friday where she made a public plea for her husband to bring the girl back:
“I had no idea my husband was involved in anything that would have led to something like this ... I want her home just as much as the rest of you.
We can help you get through this. No matter how far you've gone or what is happening right now, God's grace is sufficient for you and he wants you to come home.
This is not who you are.”
As for where police believe Cummins and Thomas are, they think he is likely hiding her in some rural area where there are few people around.
Police ask that anyone with information please contact authorities.