TENNESSEE - The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has issued a nationwide Endangered Child Alert in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Thomas, a freshman from a high school in Culleoka, Tennessee. Elizabeth has now been missing for one week.
Police say 50-year-old Tad Cummins, a former teacher at the high school where Thomas was enrolled in, was fired after police issued a warrant for him for sexual misconduct with a minor. Cummins had been suspended for a month prior to the issuance of the arrest warrant for inappropriate contact with a student.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has added Tad Cummins to the state's Top 10 Most Wanted list. The FBI has also sent a team to assist in the investigation.
Cummins is described as a 50-year-old white male, who stands 6’0”, weighs approximately 200 pounds, and has brown hair and eyes. Elizabeth is a 15-year-old white female, with hazel eyes, stands 5’5” and weighs 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a flannel shirt and black leggings.
The TBI says a friend dropped Elizabeth Thomas off at a Shoney's in Columbia, Tennessee on Monday, March 13. Around the same time, Cummins was recorded by a camera getting gas at a nearby gas station.
Later that evening, police say information placed Thomas in Decatur, Alabama. The next day, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an AMBER Alert for Tennessee and Alabama.
Cummins now faces a charge of aggravated kidnapping in addition to the charges of sexual misconduct with Thomas during his time as a teacher. Altogether, Cummins faces 8-20 years in prison.
District Attorney Brent Cooper says if Cummins returns Thomas willingly, the DA will weigh that in his favor.
Investigators say they have received an alarmingly low number of tips so far, and none have produced any credible sightings of either individual.
"We've received a shockingly low number of leads in connection to this Amber alert. Which leads us to believe one of two things: either these individuals are outside of the public view or they are outside of the original net that we cast which was law enforcement and the public primarily across the Southeast. With that in mind we need more tips."
At this point, investigators say the two could be anywhere.
Investigators say Cummins is driving a silver Nissan Rogue with Tennessee tag 976-ZPT.
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 Nissan Rogue and can verify the license plate to be TN 976-ZPT, call 911.