TBI: Teacher used role to lure Elizabeth Thomas

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The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has released new information into the disappearance of Elizabeth Thomas, the victim in an ongoing AMBER Alert in Tennessee and Alabama. They have also released more pictures of Elizabeth.


The release reads in-part:

“Though the TBI cannot discuss specifics at this time, investigative efforts have revealed a troubling pattern of behavior by Tad Cummins, suggesting the 50-year-old may have been abusing his role as a teacher to groom this vulnerable young girl for some time in an effort to lure and potentially sexually exploit her.”

TBI issued the AMBER Alert on Monday after Elizabeth’s parents reported her missing and law enforcement issued an arrest warrant for Cummins.

Investigators have since received approximately 120 leads; none of which has produced any credible sightings of either individual. They believe the low number of tips means they are likely our of the view of the general public or outside the southeast where most of the news coverage has been. “Having last been seen on Monday morning, the individuals could, frankly, be anywhere,” say investigators.

The TBI has been able to develop the following timeline of the events:

Monday, March 13th:
APPROXIMATELY 7:30-7:45 AM CST: A friend of Elizabeth Thomas dropped Thomas off at the Shoney’s in Columbia, Tennessee.
8:32 AM CST: Surveillance video appears to show Tad Cummins at the nearby Shell station, fueling his Nissan Rogue.
12:41 PM CST: The Maury County Sheriff’s Department entered the child as ‘missing’ in NCIC, the nation’s law enforcement internal communications database.
3:06 PM CST: Information places Thomas in the area of Decatur, Alabama.

Tuesday, March 14th:
3:49 PM CST: The Maury County Sheriff’s Department officially requested an alert.
4:18 PM CST: TBI issued an Endangered Child Alert.
4:49 PM CST: The Maury County Sheriff’s Department secures the warrant for Cummins, charging him with one count of Sexual Contact with a Minor.
5:53 PM CST: Due to the warrant being placed against Cummins, TBI upgraded its alert to an AMBER Alert.

Wednesday, March 15th:
District Attorney Brent Cooper confirmed the details of the incident for which Cummins now faces a charge is connected to an alleged interaction between Cummins and Thomas at the school where he taught and where she was a student.

The school district suspended Cummins when the allegations surfaced and terminated his employment Tuesday.

The TBI would urge the public to remain vigilant and report any information that may prove beneficial in the ongoing search to 1-800-TBI-FIND. If you spot the vehicle and can verify the license plate to be TN 976-ZPT, call 911.