Image Credit: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
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.
— TBI (@TBInvestigation) March 15, 2017
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.”
— Faith Family America (@FaithFamilyUSA) March 31, 2017
Thomas was transported back home from California to Tennessee on an airplane owned by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations on Friday.
TBI, FBI Agents and Maury Co deputies en route to California to bring Elizabeth Thomas home to Tennessee. pic.twitter.com/EChfH0beCq
— Susan Niland (@TBISusanNiland) April 20, 2017
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.”
— FoxNashville (@FOXNashville) April 10, 2017
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.”
NEW PICTURE: Here's Tad Cummins and Elizabeth Thomas at school in January, days before his alleged inappropriate contact with her. pic.twitter.com/BzyIz8KPpY
— TBI (@TBInvestigation) March 21, 2017
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.