On Tuesday night, authorities said that Tennessee teacher who authorities believe abducted a student had conducted research on teen marriage
Josh DeVine, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman, said of Tad Cummins: “That is an issue that we have some major concerns of because it might potentially speak to his intentions for her.” He couldn’t not get into specifics. DeVine added that officials are trying to authenticate a statement made by the student’s family.
A relative said that Elizabeth Thomas said she was going away for the day, but that someone should call police if she wasn’t home by evening.
Police said that weeks after another student reported seeing her and Cummins kissing, Thomas, 15, went missing. Cummins is charged with her kidnapping, and an amber alert was issued on March 14, one day after sheriff’s department declared her missing.
Cummins taught Elizabeth in a forensics class at a high school in Culleoka, some 50 miles southwest of Nashville.
DeVine said that authorities received almost 650 tips in relation to the case, but none has produced “any credible sighting of this young girl.” Authorities are also looking into possible connections Cummins has outside the continental United States.
Authorities say that Elizabeth Thomas and Cummins are either off the grid in a very rural area, or they are outside the Southeast, where this has been getting an awful lot of attention in the public
This week, The TBI released three new sets of images in the case. The first shows showing Thomas in a plaid shirt and it’s the last known photograph of Elizabeth before her alleged kidnapping. The other two are from surveillance videos of Cummins. They show him at a store, pushing a shopping cart, days before their disappearance.
Events leading to the kidnapping began on January 23 when a student at Thomas’ school reported seeing Cummins kissing her. A week later, Maury County sheriff’s detective notified her father of the allegations. Both Elizabeth and Cummins made statements denying they had kissed.
A report into the incident concluded the allegation the two had kissed could not be confirmed but recommended Elizabeth be taken out of Cummins’ class
Whatley wrote a letter to the school on February 6, after Elizabeth had been in Cummins’ classroom for a half-hour earlier that day, expressing concern that the school wasn’t doing enough to protect Elizabeth from Cummins. Cummins was suspended from his job that same day.
On Monday, Whatley said: Our focus is absolutely on getting Elizabeth back. Yes, there are legal issues. Yes, there are questions — a lot of unanswered questions, a lot of outrage, quite frankly. But that’s really not our focus right now.”
Armed and dangerous:
Police said that they believe Cummins has two handguns and checked online if his SUV could be tracked by law enforcement. Cummins has been placed on Tennessee’s most-wanted list. He is charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexual misconduct with a minor.
DeVine directed a message to Elizabeth, on Monday night: “She may very well not know that she’s a victim in all of this,” he said. “So our message to her tonight, you are a victim. You’re 15 years old. He’s 50. We are going to do everything we can to bring you home.”