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Crime News

Elizabeth Thomas Ate Wildflowers To Survive, Tipster Saw Tad Cummins Kissing Her

The cabin caretaker and her lawyer reveal more details about her 38 days away from home.

By Gina Tron
Elizabeth Thomas: What We Know

It has been one week since Elizabeth Thomas was reunited with her family after being allegedly abducted by former teacher Tad Cummins for 38 days.

Details are now emerging about the excursion that the 50-year-old man and the 15-year-old girl went on before being found in a remote cabin in California.

According to People, authorities think Thomas and Cummins were in Northern California for a week and a half. Authorities believe the pair spent a few days and nights in Berkeley and the clothing-optional Black Bear Ranch Commune before ending up in the cabin in rural Cecilville, where the two were caught. The cabin was more than 2,000 miles from their home in Tennessee.

Family attorney Jason Whatley described the cabin as a four-walled shelter without running water, electricity or heat piping. The pair often ate wildflowers to survive, which led to the teen losing a significant amount of weight.

The lack of food in Thomas’ system was obvious according to Whatley.  He said in the report that when he met the teen last week, she was physically and emotionally “fragile.”

“I was so shocked when I saw her first,” Whatley said. “I didn’t know it but she was even smaller than she was used to be being. She [had] lost a lot [of weight].”

He added that it appeared that Thomas had not showered or bathed the entire time she was gone. She asked to take a shower as soon as she was rescued, according to the report.

Griffin Barry, 29, is the caretaker of the cabin and he called authorities when he recognized the pair from the ongoing AMBER Alert. It was a few days before he realized who they were but he claimed he instantly knew something was off when he met them. He said in reports that he gave the couple food in exchange for manual labor. According to him, Cummins claimed their names were “John” and “Joanna” and lied about Thomas’ age. Cummins said she was 24. Barry told People that Cummins did most of the talking and he only heard Thomas speak once.

“One time I had given him food that night and [she] was like, ‘Thank you,’” Barry said. He had given the teen rice and clementines. “She got excited over some food.”

Barry said he saw Cummins kiss Thomas twice while the pair were they helped Barry collect rocks to build a fire pit.

“Two times down there I saw them kissing on a quick break,” Barry told People. He added that he grew more suspicious of the couple after observing strange interactions.

“It was like, ‘that girl won’t look at me.'”

Barry felt unsettled enough to tell a friend about "John" and "Joanna." That friend ended up coming over later with a photo of the two from the internet. According to the report, it was then that Barry realized the odd couple on his property were the subjects of a nationwide search.

 [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]