Former Tennessee teacher arrested; missing student found safe in Northern California

Courtesy, ABC News & Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

SISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif. (WKRN) — The former Maury County teacher accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old student last month has been arrested in northern California.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Thursday that Tad Cummins, 50, was taken into custody and Elizabeth Thomas was safely recovered.

The arrest comes after authorities in Siskiyou County, California, confirmed to News 2 Cummins’ Nissan Rogue was found there late Wednesday night.

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kelly Giordano told News 2 it found with the license plate removed and verified to be Cummins’ vehicle through its VIN number.

It’s not yet known which city Cummins and Thomas were located. Siskiyou County is one of the northernmost counties that borders the state of Oregon.

The two vanished from Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13. Aside from being captured on surveillance two days later at an Oklahoma City, Walmart, neither had been seen or heard from since.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/ABC News) — The wife of a former Tennessee schoolteacher accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old student is pleading for her husband to bring the girl home.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said it remains “extremely concerned” about the well-being of Elizabeth Thomas, who was last seen Monday in Columbia. Tad Cummins was placed on the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List.

A statewide Amber Alert from the TBI says Cummins “may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom this vulnerable young girl for some time in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her.”

Cummins’ wife, Jill Cummins, on Friday asked her husband to turn himself in and bring the teenager home.

Tad Cummins formerly taught at the Culleoka Unit School. He was fired after the alert was issued.

Cummins is described as a white man with brown hair and brown eyes. He is 6 feet tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He may be driving a 2015 silver Nissan Rogue with a Tennessee license plate number 976-ZPT.

Elizabeth is described as a white girl with blonde hair, hazel eyes. She is 5-feet, 5-inches tall and weighs 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing leggings and a flannel shirt.

Authorities are asking that anyone with information call 1-800-TBI-FIND and that anyone who sees a car with Tennessee license plate 976-ZPT call 911. A $1,000 reward is available for information leading to Tad Cummins’ arrest.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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