Tennessee teen Elizabeth Thomas and Tad Cummins, her 50-year-old teacher who allegedly “groomed” Thomas into having an inappropriate romantic relationship with him, may have absconded to Mexico, local officials said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“[He] planned this in such a way that he had a 24-hour head start, easily enough time for him to make it to Mexico,” Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper said, reported People magazine.
Cummins and Thomas, 15, have been missing since March 13, several months after another student allegedly saw the pair kissing in an empty classroom. Other witnesses reportedly saw Cummins give Thomas back massages and hold the young teen’s hand—and investigators said they found evidence that the pair had exchanged love notes. The morning of her disappearance, Thomas told her sister Sarah Thomas “I’m going to be gone.”
Thomas, who is three years below the age of consent in Tennessee, has in her disappearance updated her Instagram bio to claim that she’s now married.
“Some have characterized this relationship as a romance,” Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Mark Gwyn said at the press conference, according to People. “But this morning I want to caution the public to avoid anything that might look or sound like victim blaming.
“This is not a fairy tale,” he continued. “This is a case of kidnapping.”
Anyone with information on the pair should call the TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND.
[Image: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]