Video released; search continues for missing teen Elizabeth Thomas

No contact reported since she disappeared on March 13th

Surveillance video of Tad Cummins, believed to have kidnapped 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas, has been released.

In the name of due diligence, the TBI would encourage property owners – especially in rural areas – to search their grounds for the individuals, the vehicle, or any sign of suspicious activity and report that to 1-800-TBI-FIND.

The TBI would also encourage campgrounds, parks, and other isolated areas to remain vigilant and on the lookout for any sign of Elizabeth Thomas or Tad Cummins. To that end, large parking lots and garages should also be searched for the vehicle described in the AMBER Alert. If located, contact 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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At today's TBI press conference, Elizabeth Thomas' brother James spoke out, hoping to help bring his sister home.

“I don’t know whether she went willingly or not, but I do believe it was some sort of coercion,” James Thomas said. “I don’t believe it was something a 15-year-old can just say that, ‘Hey, I’m going to be off with a 50-year-old man and it be something that anybody should see as acceptable.”.

Authorities told News 2 there is evidence that Cummins had been making plans to “live off the grid.”

He now faces charges for aggravated kidnapping and having sexual contact with Thomas at school.

“I don’t imagine her staying in one place for one long, or at least staying hidden for very long,” Thomas told WKRN News 2.

He continued, “She loves interacting with people and loves doing things, so if everybody could keep an eye out and everybody could keep posting and keep communicating and trying to get more people to see her face because she’ll come forward.”

Thomas’ brother added that his younger sister would always tell them when she was hanging out with friends or going somewhere.

“She’d never just jump and run,” he said.

So far, the TBI has received 450 tips from more than 20 states. None of those tips have led to credible sightings of either Thomas or Cummins. The family has also asked the community to wear green ribbons or place green wreaths at their home or business to help keep Thomas’ disappearance in the public eye.

“I’m not asking him to turn himself in. I’m not asking him to do anything more than just put her someplace safe and let somebody know where she is so we can get her back home,” said James Thomas. “I want it to be over with. Every day I’m hoping the next phone call’s the phone call saying she’s back home.”

Anyone who sees the pair is urged to call 911. Cummins’ was last seen driving a 2015 silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee license plate 976ZPT, but law enforcement officials believe they may have abandoned the SUV. Cummins was added to the state’s “Most Wanted” list on Friday.

They are also asking people with rural or remote property to check their land.

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The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI)  and FBI reports more leads, but still far fewer than they expect, in the case of Tennessee teenager Elizabeth Thomas, now missing since March 13th and believed to be in extreme danger.

In their most recent update, TBI released the following information:

The kidnapping suspect, Tad Cummins, has been added to the state’s ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list. There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to his capture. A warrant has been issued for Cummins for Sexual Contact with a Minor and Aggravated Kidnapping.

Thomas is a 15-year-old white female, with hazel eyes, stands 5’5” and weighs 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings. Thomas is believed to be in the custody of 50-year-old Tad Cummins, a white male, who stands 6’0”, weighs approximately 200 pounds, and has brown hair and eyes. 

Information gained through investigative efforts over the past few days indicates he potentially planned this abduction prior to Monday. What investigators have learned about Cummins and his possible intentions for the young girl since issuing the AMBER Alert heightens imminent concern for Elizabeth’s well-being. 

The TBI has received approximately 250 tips from 24 states. The low number of tips, combined with the limited resources Cummins is believed to have in his possession, leads investigators to believe he may be keeping her out of view of the general public.

For example, he potentially may have them sleeping in the vehicle or Cummins may have driven them far away from Tennessee to a rural community. Having now been on the run for more than five days, the TBI says Cummins may have taken her, frankly, anywhere.

Officials are asking people nationwide to be on the lookout for Cummins, Thomas, or the vehicle they were believed to be traveling in. Report any information that may prove beneficial in the ongoing search to 1-800-TBI-FIND. If you spot the vehicle and can verify the license plate to be TN 976-ZPT, call 911 immediately.

 

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