Former Tennessee teacher in kidnapping case captured, girl safe

Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins. (image via Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)
Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins. (image via Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

A former Tennessee high school teacher accused of abducting a 15-year-old student in March was arrested on Thursday in northern California where the teenager was also safely recovered, authorities said.

Tad Cummins, 50, who disappeared in mid-March with Elizabeth Thomas, had been charged with aggravated kidnapping and having sexual contact with a minor. Police had believed Cummins was armed with two handguns, but he was arrested without the use of substantial force, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Josh DeVine said in a phone interview.

Thomas was found safe with Cummins, authorities said.

Cummins, who is married, and Thomas became the subject of a nationwide search after the teacher apparently lured Thomas into his car outside of a Shoney’s restaurant in Columbia, Tennessee, about 45 miles south of Nashville. Cummins was subsequently placed on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s top 10 “most wanted” list.

Cummins was fired from his teaching job after being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with Thomas.

Cummins’ vehicle was recovered on Wednesday night in Siskiyou County, about three hours northwest of Redding, California, near the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

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