Family Lawyer Was Surprised When He Met Missing Teen Elizabeth Thomas for First Time: ‘She’s a Little Girl’

Image Credit: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

Elizabeth Thomas was reported missing from her Tennessee home on March 13. She was found 39 days later in a Northern California cabin with her former teacher, 50-year-old Tad Cummins.

According to ABC News, the 15-year-old girl reunited with her friends and family late this week. On Friday, her family’s lawyer, Jason Whatley, wrote in a statement that Thomas is safe and recovering.

Whatley also noted that he was “taken aback” when he first met the girl. She looked nothing like the pictures that were distributed by police, the family, and the media.

He wrote, in part, according to WHNT (emphasis added):

“On a personal note, I met Elizabeth for the first time. I was taken aback by who she is. Elizabeth is a little child. She could easily pass for 12. The primary photo used and reprinted so many times by law enforcement, the media, and even our office, is inaccurate. She is a little girl in every sense of the word. This was the abduction of an impressionable, little child.”

Thomas was transported back home from California to Tennessee on an airplane owned by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations on Friday.

Whatley wrote that the authorities are taking great care to help the teenager recover:

“There is no doubt that she has suffered severe emotional trauma and that her process of recovery is only just beginning.”

After Thomas was found, Siskiyou County Police Sergeant Mike Gilley described the teen’s state of mind:

“It was very traumatic for her. She experienced a rollercoaster of emotions […] Her response escalated during our interview with her. She was emotional at times, sometimes stoic.”

This week, mental health experts will be working with investigators to interview, evaluate, then treat Elizabeth Thomas.

Her parents told WHNT that they know there will be a long road to recovery ahead, but they’re happy their daughter is finally home.

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