Tad Cummins, an ex-teacher in Tennessee and accused kidnapper of his 15-year-old student Elizabeth Thomas, was arrested Wednesday — more than a month after the pair disappeared, according to law enforcement officials. Cummins had a warrant against him on charges of having sexual contact with a minor and aggravated kidnapping.
The student-teacher duo was found in northern California’s remote Siskiyou County. Cummins and Elizabeth spent one night in a remote cabin in Cecilville in northwest of Redding, before being located by authorities on a tip off by the cabin’s caretaker, CNN reported. However, the two could have likely been in the area for about a week, according to Siskiyou County sheriff's Sgt. Mike Gilley.
"I'm glad this is over," Cummins said after being arrested, according to Gilley, CNN reported.
Elizabeth, who was the subject of Amber Alert in Tennessee and Alabama, walked behind Cummins at the time of his arrest. Gilley reportedly said that the teen’s condition was alternating between "stoic" and "emotional."
"It was a very traumatic experience for her. Her mood was very alternating," Gilley said. "The two obviously have a relationship ... her response to us and to law enforcement escalated up and down."
There has been speculation that Cummins and Elizabeth had romantic relationship and the pair was spotted kissing by a student at their Maury County’s Culleoka Unit School, according to school documents from January. However, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Director Mark Gwyn said the alleged relationship between the pair was not “romance” given that the teen is minor.
Check out some facts about Cummins:
- Cummins was a health science teacher at Culleoka Unit School and Elizabeth was a student in his third-period class. He joined the school in July 2011, according to the Tennessean. While applying for the job, he said that he always wanted to teach.
- Cummins was fired from his job after reports about alleged kidnapping of Elizabeth surfaced.
- Cummins is a father to two daughters — aged 29 and 26 — and is also a grandfather.
- Jill Cummins, his wife of 31 years, filed for divorce last month citing “irreconcilable differences” and said he is “guilty of inappropriate marital conduct.” In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" last week, Jill said even though she loves him, she cannot trust him.
- The ex-teacher filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in 1999, the Tennessean reported, adding that he had over $12,000 judgment filed against him in Maury County in 2012 by Beneficial Tennessee Inc. However, he did not have any criminal history.
- Prior to disappearing, Cummins left a note for Jill — likely to mislead authorities, according to Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper.
- Cummins likely could remain behind bars for several years, according to Gwyn. “Cummins is facing a set of charges that should be keeping him behind bars for many years,” Gwyn said, following Cummins’ arrest.