More than a month after 50-year-old Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins disappeared with his student 15-year-old Elizabeth Thomas, the pair has been found. He was taken into custody and the teen has been safely recovered.
According to the Columbia Daily, the two were found in Northern California. On April 19 the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office received eyewitness reports that a vehicle matching Cummins’ had been observed in the Cecilville area. Police were tipped off that the two were staying in a cabin off of Eddy Gulch Road.
At a press conference on April 20, Siskiyou County law enforcement personnel detailed the arrest. SCSO Field Lieutenant Behr Tharsing stated that a special response team was formed and gathered at a nearby campground, and that the vehicle was identified as matching Cummins’ vehicle - even though the license plate had been changed and the vehicle identification number was covered.
According to the report, Tharsing explained that the cabin was a small, one room building and that the pair had likely been sleeping on a foam mattress on the ground. Tharsing said at a press conference that the 8-person tactical unit waited several hours to see if Cummins would exit the cabin. The team was looking for a way to apprehend him and cause Thomas as little distress as possible. The team had a sniper in position according to the report. Cummins was allegedly armed with two firearms.
After about 7 and a half hours, Cummins and Thomas exited the cabin. They were both detained at around 9:30 a.m.
Tharsing said that both Cummins and Thomas thanked the officers for their “professional conduct.” Tharsing also said that Cummins told him during the arrest, “I’m glad this is over.”
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey spoke during the press conference and said that Cummins appeared to have made an arrangement to work for the owner of the cabin in exchange for food and fuel. Lopey said that the pair had only been in the area for a couple days. Before that, the two visited Berkeley, California, and a commune in western Siskiyoui County. Lopey added that he does not expect charges to be filed against the cabin’s owner, who has complied with the investigation.
Two handguns – a 9 millimeter Heckler and Koch semi-automatic and a Ruger .38 calibre semi-auto, both loaded – were found in the cabin.
Cummins will be arraigned at the Siskiyou County Courthouse at 10 a.m. on Friday. He was arrested on a fugitive arrest warrant on a charge of aggravated kidnapping, and is also facing a warrant on a sex-based charge. He may potentially be charged with local and state crimes according to the report.
Reportedly, the FBI is working to return Thomas to her family. That reunion is planned for Friday afternoon.
“We’re absolutely ecstatic, what other things could we say?” Elizabeth Thomas’ grandmother, who opted to remain unidentified, told People. “And we’re very appreciative for all the people that prayed for this day to happen.”
Thomas’ older sister, Kat Bozeman, said that she has heard her sibling is in physically healthy condition.
“We don’t know about her mental state as of this moment. We know the police retrieved her and trying to bring her back home,” she said to People.
[Photo:Tennessee Bureau of Investigation]