Elizabeth Thomas, 15, is severely traumatized emotionally from her abduction, according to her lawyer and family.
Her father Anthony Thomas told ABC News that the experience may have changed her.
“What we want to see when we look at her is the child we knew,” Thomas said in the report. “She may not be exactly ... the person she was because there’s a lot of experiences she’s had."
Thomas was allegedly kidnapped by her former 50-year-old teacher Tad Cummins on March 13. It spawned a national manhunt. Last week, the pair were found at a remote cabin in northern California where Cummins was captured. Cummins faces charges of aggravated kidnapping and sexual contact with a minor. Even though authorities described Thomas as "healthy and unharmed" after she was found, Anthony Thomas said that even physically she has changed.
“She has lost a lot of weight,” he said.
Thomas’ attorney stated that the teen will need time to heal from her experience.
“She is being evaluated and treated by mental health experts specializing in trauma. There is no doubt she has suffered severe emotional trauma and that her process of recovery is only just beginning,” a statement from her attorney S. Jason Whatley in a report from People.
Whatley also stated that the photograph of the missing teen, circulated by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, makes Thomas look older than she is.
“Elizabeth is a little child. She could easily pass for 12,” the statement reads. “The primary photo used and reprinted so many times by law enforcement, the media, and even our office, is inaccurate.”
Thomas’ father told ABC News that she used to be very outspoken and is a natural leader.
"I think she has the determination to really go somewhere in life," he said. "But right now she really needs a lot of help."
He said that she only has a few items of clothing in her possession right now.
"All of the clothes she had with her were taken for evidence [after she and Cummins were found],” he said. In addition to that, many of the clothes she had left at home were taken by law enforcement to help with the investigation. He said said the loss of her clothes may be difficult for his daughter. "She was always particular with the way she dressed."
[Photo:Tennessee Bureau of Investigations]
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