NASHVILLE, Tn. The former Tennessee teacher accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old student was arrested Thursday in a remote area in the Northern California mountains.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Tad Cummins, 50, was taken into custody and Elizabeth Thomas was safely rescued in Cecilville, California, in Siskiyou County.
The TBI says they received a tip late Wednesday night and notified authorities in Siskiyou County, who rescued the teenager early Thursday morning. The pair was found at a cabin in a rural area, according to TBI.
The area was extremely remote, with snow on the ground, and approximately two hours from the responding sheriff’s station.
Preliminary information from TBI indicates that they may have been there for a week and a half.
A tipster called in a sighting of the car, which was then placed under surveillance.
Cummins surrendered without incident, according to the TBI. Thomas was subsequently recovered by officers, and efforts to reunite her with her family are ongoing.
TBI indicated that she will be flown back to Tennessee on TBI aircraft on Friday and will have immediate access to any services she needs, including specialized counseling and services.
Watch the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation press conference:
The two vanished from Columbia, Tennessee, on March 13. An AMBER Alert was issued across the state of Tennessee the following day, and Cummins was added to the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list on March 17.
The former teacher is charged with aggravated kidnapping in the AMBER Alert case and also faces one count of sexual contact with a minor after he allegedly kissed Thomas at school earlier this year in late January.
He also faces a federal charge involving the transporting a minor across state lines.
“Our Intelligence Analysts and Agents have worked tirelessly since issuing this AMBER Alert to process more than 1,500 leads from all 50 states,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “What happened in California this morning, however, proves it only takes one person to lead to a successful end. We are extremely thankful the hard work of all partners in this search has paid off. We’re also grateful for the public’s support and vigilance throughout this search effort.”
15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas went missing from her Tennessee home in March. Her former teacher, 50-year-old Tad Cummins, is believed to have kidnapped her. She has been the subject of a nationwide Amber Alert.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) will be holding a press conference this afternoon where they are expected to release more details.